Teaching our kids to walk

During October, 11,425 students from 55 Victoria primary schools participated in VicHealth’s Walk to School campaign. 

The students walked a combined 241,115 kilometres — six times around the circumference of the Earth!

Victoria Walks congratulates the students, their families and VicHealth for this wonderful result. 

However, we are greatly concerned that not enough is being done to ensure children can walk to school every day of the year.

Since the 1970s the number of children walking to school has more than halved. This is extremely worrying as walking offers children one of the best opportunities to build physical activity into everyday life. 

More than 25 per cent of Australian children aged 5-17 are overweight or obese. Obesity is estimated to cost Victoria $14.4 billion each year.

Children walking to school is a marker of a healthy community. 

Children want to walk to school and with such low levels of walking we are failing them and setting them up for a lifetime of poor health. This is an absolute disgrace. Physical activities like walking are the closest thing we have to a wonder drug. 

They protect against obesity and also reduce stress and anxiety, improve self-confidence, self-esteem, energy levels and the ability to concentrate.

Governments over the last four decades have clearly not done enough to create or maintain walkable communities. 

Victoria Walks calls on all levels of government to lift their game and make walking to school and the creation of walkable communities a priority.

We need a holistic approach across government to ensure that we can once again hear children’s footsteps on our streets in great numbers and all Victorians are safe, physically active and walking to local destinations relevant to their everyday lives.

Dr Ben Rossiter, executive officer Victoria Walks, Pelham Street, Melbourne 


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