Ask any parent: “Why do you drive your child to school?”
Chances are, they'll answer, “Because I'm afraid of the traffic.”
It's time to take a good look at the traffic around our children's schools. Most of the vehicles that are making Anna and Admiral unsafe are... parents dropping their children off by car.
Why should children walk to school?
For their health ... two-thirds of Canadian children don't get enough exercise, according to Canada's Phyiscal Activity Guide. Nearly 30% are overweight. Asthma has become an epidemic in cities whose air pollution is largely caused by cars.
For their safety ... more children die in car accidents than from any other cause. And the more children and parents are walking to school, the safer the streets are for everybody.
For the environment... cars which make short trips, or cars that are idling while waiting to pick up a passenger, emit the most pollution.
Last year, over 100,000 Canadian children took part in a special, fun competition on International Walk to School Day. This year, your children can join with schools across Canada and in the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico on Walk to School Day, October 4, 2000.
Encourage your child's teacher to investigate the Web sites at http://www.goforgreen.ca and http://www.greenestcity.ca. There, they can register the school as an official participant and download a wealth of classroom activities. Younger children can join a colouring contest. Older children can calculate the cost of driving versus walking, or map their neighbourhood for safe walking and cycling routes. Parents can get together to plan more activities, such as weekly Walking Wednesdays, a No-Idling Zone around the school, or even a Walking School Bus for younger children.
To get you started, we're suggesting alternate routes for parents who don't like sending their children down Merivale Road, which we agree is fast and unpleasant between Kingston and Shillington. Try the bicycle path in the Farm, or Kingston Avenue as far as Silver. There's a four-way stop where children can safely cross Shillington at Silver, which leads into Alexander Park and a quiet walkway to Marshall.
What safe routes do you use? Let us know what works for your family. Then, on October 4, take a simple but life-changing step: walk your child to school.