Page 10 “ “ Active and Safe Routes to School Contributor Lise Richard “We walked in blinding snowstorms, past raging rivers, uphill both ways when I went to school.” If you grew up in Canada you probably heard some version of this line from a grandparent or parent on your walk to school. But research suggests that today’s students will have a hard time relating to this classic chestnut. A generation ago, 58% of Canadian parents walked to school when they were children, compared to 28% of their children today. On the other hand, administrators, teachers and neighbours can all attest that motor vehicle traffic around schools is on the rise. Whether less walking or more driving is the chicken or the egg is uncertain. What is clear, however, is that today increased motor vehicle traffic in school zones presents a barrier to active and safe trips to school – twice every day, five days a week. Active transportation – walking, biking, scooting and skateboarding to get to and from places such as school, parks and shops – has long been known to be an important source of physical activity for children and youth, and a great opportunity to spend time outside. One of the great things about active transportation is that it can be easily integrated into everyday life with little or even no cost. And its benefits are significant. A ten- minute walk each morning and afternoon has the potential to make a substantial contribution to the 60 minutes of daily physical activity kids need for overall health and wellbeing. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it will take a community-wide effort to turn back the clock on school transportation. Both the City of Nanaimo’s Transportation Master Plan and Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ Transportation Policy recognize the importance of providing safe opportunities for students to make active trips to and from school. This winter, the City and School District partnered to bring School Travel Planning to four Nanaimo public schools. A generation ago, 58% of Canadian parents walked to school when they were children, compared to 28% of their children today.