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Calling all Queensland primary school children – it’s time to get walking.

Next Friday, May 17, children from across Australia will put their feet first and journey towards a healthier future by participating in the 20th anniversary of National Walk Safely to School Day.

The annual event raises awareness of the health, road safety, transport and environmental benefits that regular walking (especially to and from school) can provide for the long-term wellbeing of our children. Apart from the physical benefits, regular walking also has a favourable impact on their cognitive and academic performance.

The day also encourages primary school-aged children to build walking into their daily routine, by walking to and from school, not just on Friday May 17, but every day.

Pedestrian Council of Australia Chairman and CEO Harold Scruby said physical inactivity was a major risk factor for so many chronic diseases that can affect our kids at different stages of their life, including mental illness, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

“One in four children in Australia is overweight or obese, and it is expected that numbers will reach one in three by next year,” he said. “We really need teachers, parents, carers and the community at large to get behind this event and its objectives. The best exercise for all of us is regular walking. Children require at least 60 minutes huff-and-puff physical activity every day.”

National Walk Safely to School Day also encourages parents and carers to walk more, reducing dangerous traffic congestion around schools, better use of public transport with reduced car-dependency and other vitally important road safety messages.

“We should encourage them to include walking at the beginning, during and end of each day – if you can’t walk all the way, use public transport and get off the bus, train, tram or ferry a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way to school,” says Harold. “Until they are aged 10, children must always hold the hand of an adult when crossing the road.”

Not only do you give your kids a great physical kickstart to their day, but there are also important lessons for them to learn about pedestrian and traffic safety. Plus, it’s a wonderful bonding experience to walk hand-in-hand with your children.

“South-East Queensland primary schools have always been among the strongest supporters of our national event – maybe it’s the balmy Queensland climate or maybe greater Brisbane parents simply understand the importance of keeping their kids active and healthy?” says Harold. “Either way, we are impressed to see so many families join us on Walk Safely to School Day morning, walking in locations from Caboolture to Beenleigh, and from the western suburbs out to the bay.”

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, schools are encouraged to also host a FREE healthy breakfast on Friday May 17, in conjunction with their local supermarket or greengrocer. Click here for Rosemary Stanton guide to healthy breakfast.

It’s not too late to participate in National Walk Safely to School Day – and it’s FREE!

www.walk.com.au

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