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Research finds record number of Victorian students walking to school

Research finds record number of Victorian students walking to school
February 13, 2020

New research has found that VicHealth’s Walk to School month 2019 has helped shift parents’ attitudes around the health and social benefits of active travel for children.

During the health promotion foundation’s Walk to School month in October 2019, an estimated 186,600 students - the highest in the initiative’s 14-year history - walked, rode or scooted to school, almost 40,000 more children than in 2018. That’s around one in three primary school aged children in Victoria. An impressive 942 primary schools took part, up 26% from 2018 – 128 of which got involved for the first time. The schools were from 71 of the 79 council areas in Victoria.

An independent survey of Victorian parents and carers revealed those with children who took part in Walk to School 2019 were more likely than parents of children who didn’t take part, to see active travel as:

  • Good for their children’s health (90% of participating parents/carers, vs 84% of non-participating parents/carers)
  • A practical way to help their child get 60 minutes of physical activity a day (84% vs 79% of non-participating parents)
  • Helpful for developing their child’s independence (83% vs 77% of non-participating parents)
  • An opportunity for their child to chat with friends (72% vs 60% of non-participating parents).

However, a fear of judgement was a barrier for many parents, with close to half of all parents surveyed feeling that other parents would disapprove if their children walked to school without adult supervision.

Prizes were up for grabs for schools which used creative or unique ideas to get students involved, gave students multiple opportunities to participate, saw high levels of participation from the school community and worked to create longer-term behaviour change.

Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos said it’s wonderful to see a record number of Victorian families walking to school adding “our Victorian primary school kids are embracing physical activity, building independence and socialising with their friends. It’s encouraging to see so many school communities across Victoria walking, riding or scootering to school.

“I hope families will continue to embrace the healthy habits they’ve developed during Walk to School by staying active during the year.”

VicHealth Chief Executive Dr Sandro Demaio said it’s incredibly positive to see thousands of families embracing the Walk to School message.

Dr Demaio enthused “Congratulations to all the students, parents and schools – particularly our competition winners – for taking part in Walk to School 2019.

“We know kids are healthier and happier when they’re active every day, so you’ve helped instill positive habits which whole communities can benefit from.

“Walking to school is a great way for kids to get some of the activity they need to be healthy, and we want more families to walk, ride or scoot to and from school all year round.

“While we understand families face challenges in walking to school - such as time pressures and a fear of allowing kids to walk independently - there are enormous benefits for kids, parents and the whole school community in getting active on the commute.

“It’s exciting to see our Walk to School program growing in popularity every year, with families overcoming barriers to get kids walking, riding or scooting to school more often.”

Related Articles

21st January 2020 - VicHealth calls for higher standards on fast food marketing to teenagers and children

19th November 2019 - VicHealth offers new funding to sports clubs

9th October 2019 - New research shows parents fear of judgement as barrier to children walking to school

24th September 2019 - Stonnington prepares for Walk to School program

16th August 2019 - VicHealth set to launch a new This Girl Can campaign

19th July 2019 - VicHealth to offer new fun and inclusive sport programs

8th July 2019 - New Chief Executive appointed at VicHealth

1st July 2019 - VicHealth grants provide opportunities for increased community sport participation

9th April 2019 - VicHealth research reveals widespread promotion of alcoholic drinks on social media

18th March 2019 - VicHealth report says women are ‘shamed’ into quitting fitness activities

7th February 2019 - VicHealth grants to encourage community sport programs

30th January 2019 - VicHealth research considers the effectiveness of health and wellbeing apps 

10th December 2018 - Latest VicHealth funding helps local sports clubs achieve their goals 

6th December 2018 - Health promotion efforts lauded at VicHealth Awards

5th December 2018 - VicHealth campaign promoting physical activity to women is recognised with Fame Award

7th November 2018 - VicHealth initiates new sports programs to get Victorians active

14th May 2018 - Walking, swimming and fitness training top list of Australians’ physical activities

8th December 2016 - Landmark study finds sport struggling to keep youth engaged

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