The return to in-class learning this fall is a great time to form healthy new habits. With months of e-learning and the summer break, school routines have been disrupted, making back-to-school the perfect time to form new ones – like active school travel!

Why Active School Travel?
Active school travel is any person-powered way of getting around, including walking, rollerblading, skateboarding/longboarding, biking, wheeling, scooting etc. There are many benefits to choosing active school travel for Back-to-School 2021. 

  • Physical distancing is easy – Choosing the school bus or driving to school adds another enclosed space to your kid’s school day. On the other hand, walking, biking or wheeling to school makes it easy for children to maintain distance from others as they commute. 
  • Mental well-being – Walking or wheeling to school increases happiness and results in positive mental health results like reduced stress, depression, and anxiety. 
  • Improves academic performance – Research proves that kids who move more aren’t just healthier, they also tend to do better academically, behave better in class and miss fewer days of school.  
  • Reduced emissions, fresh air – Using active modes of commute to school gets your kid outdoors. Some fresh air is great after having spent a lot of time indoors due to e-learning and lockdown measures. Also, walking reduces your emissions, thereby improving air quality, and reduces associated risks of lung and cardiovascular diseases among children. 
  • Safer school zones – Active commute to school makes schools zones safer by reducing the traffic volumes at bell times. Improving walking and cycling routes to schools also enhances the quality of life for the community as a whole. 
  • Helps connect with your community – Commuting on foot, bikes or scooters helps your family discover more about the neighbourhood you live in and develop a better relationship with your community. 

How to Get Started?
The hardest part of developing new habits is getting started. But, there are things you can do to make that first step a little easier. We are leading a digital campaign and have a list of resources to help support families try active commute to school this fall. Here are a few things you could try to develop the habit of being active on the way to school: 

  • Use the Back-To-School 2021 Resources  – These include tips, checklists, travel tracking forms, as well as activity sheets for I-SPY, colouring, and BINGO! You can also find graphics, messages, and #hashtags to share on social media to prompt your friends to try active transportation. 
  • Plan and practice your route – Take some time to try out various routes to school with your children before in-person classes begin. This will help you pick the route that works best for your kid.
  • Start small – Drive to 5 is a great way to try out active school travel while also avoiding the traffic around schools at drop off times. Park a block away from school and walk the rest of the way! 
  • Make the commitment – Set a certain number of days every week that your family will do active school travel. 

How to Keep it Going?
The second hardest part of developing new habits is to stick to them! Making connections and using the available resources from Ontario Active School Travel are smart ways to keep those new routines going.  

  • Seek out support from others. Pair up with other families to keep each other accountable. 
  • Recognize/reward progress and achievements. 
  • Get in touch with local organizations and local champions for additional guidance. 
  • Continue using the Back-To-School 2021 Resources and other online resources. 
  • Participate and promote seasonal events like International Walk to School Month in October, Winter Walk Day in February, Spring into Spring in April and Bike to School Week in May. 

We wish all students and families the best of luck on their active school journeys this fall as Ontario returns to in-class learning!  

Be sure to follow along with the Ontario Back-To-School 2021 campaign on Twitter and Facebook and to look out for the upcoming IWalk campaign