THOUSANDS of south-west primary school pupils left their normal buses and family cars behind yesterday morning as part of the eighth national Ride2School Day.
The initiative encourages pupils to make riding, walking, skating and scooting their normal mode of transport to and from school whenever possible.
Warrnambool City Council TravelSmart officer Nicole Wood said 10 primary schools in Warrnambool took part.
Ms Wood said pupils had the opportunity to earn stickers and giveaways for taking part, but the biggest incentive was the chance to enjoy themselves by exercising outdoors as a group.
“They love being out there with other kids,” Ms Wood said.
Ride2School is part of an effort to get children to start healthy lifestyles they can continue into adulthood.
They are encouraged to do 60 minutes of physical activity a day — exercise before school helping them to arrive alert and ready to learn.
Ms Wood said the percentage of Warrnambool primary school pupils who exercised to get to school had risen from 20 per cent about eight years ago to more than 50 per cent at about four schools.
Five schools in Glenelg Shire also took part in Ride2School, the Glenelg Shire Council contributing to the lucky draw prizes.
Glenelg mayor John Northcott said riding to school not only made for healthier students, it also reduced traffic around schools.