Walking is the easiest way to curb obesity and the most inexpensive ‘mode of transportation’. Yet, it is one of those activities you rarely see among students. Fewer children are walking to school. This does not just affect physical health but also robs them of the joys of socialising and new discoveries.
This is a problem that requires collaboration among parents, the students and schools. If you are working in the latter, you have the responsibility to encourage kids (and parents) to walk more often.
Involving the Parents
Many reports show that sometimes, it is the parents who are keeping their children from walking to school. A common reason for this is they think it is not safe; there is the stranger danger, the possibility of getting lost or the extreme weather conditions (too sunny during summer or too cold when snowing). These anxieties are valid, but they can be managed.
For instance, to address safety issues, you can give them flyers about safe routes or encourage meeting points so that students can look after one another. For extreme weather conditions, it is good to drive children to school, but schools can likewise assure parents that their facilities can offer the right protection. For example, installing walkway covers for schools, canopies or shade sails gives that impression to parents that you are doing something about their concerns.
Motivating the Students
For students, re-education is important. Some may feel that walking to school is not necessary for academic performance. Others may think that such a simple activity will not do much to keep them healthy. These misconceptions need changing and as educators, you are responsible for correcting these.
Open the discussion about the physical and mental benefits of walking and how a simple habit can affect their performance in school. But do not stop there; include those principles in your lessons. For instance, in geography, let them discover different routes to school. In Math, allow them to record their steps and take note of their speed and distance covered.
Encourage parents and students to get into the walking-to-school habit. Do not let the children miss out on the great benefits.