Go for Green

Go for Green

September 30, 2005 10:39 ET

Go for Green: International Walk to School Week to Tackle Childhood Obesity in Canada

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 30, 2005) - Students will lace up their sneakers and walk to school next week in celebration of International Walk to School Week (October 3 - 7, 2005), a campaign dedicated in part to the fight against childhood obesity in Canada.

"Less than one-half of our young people are active enough for healthy growth and development and levels of childhood obesity among Canadian children aged seven to 13 have nearly tripled over the past 20 years," said Minister Dosanjh, Canada's Minister of Health. "One effective way to reverse this trend is to encourage and assist youth to be more physically active by walking, cycling, wheeling or inline skating to school."

"I am delighted to be promoting International Walk to School Week," said Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of State (Public Health). "Children and their well being is of the utmost importance to the Public Health Agency of Canada. International Walk to School Week is a prime example of an integrated approach to increasing the physical activity of children and youth, and providing a supportive environment through good community/urban planning of active and safe routes to school. Together with our provincial/territorial colleagues, we are working across departments and jurisdictions in support of the health of Canadian children and youth."

Recognizing International Walk to School Week has become a tradition in Canada since 1998 when a few Ontario schools first participated in the global event. This year at many schools across Canada, students, parents, teachers and community leaders will meet at a common location and then walk to school together. Along the way, students will learn safe pedestrian skills, as well as the health and environmental benefits of walking to school rather than being driven in the family car. "Children also learn about the role vehicle emissions play in causing air pollution," said Jeff LeBlanc, the New Brunswick representative of Go for Green. "When there are fewer cars on the road, there are fewer emissions released into the air we breathe".

International Walk to School Week events are intended to jumpstart students to become more physically active throughout the year. For example, in communities where the majority of students cannot walk to school because of distance, the event could be used to launch a year-round walking-at-recess program. In other cases, the event might raise awareness of safety issues such as the need for sidewalks or reduced speed limits near the school.

Originally a one-day celebration, the initiative has grown to International Walk to School Week. Schools can choose the day to participate, or they can celebrate a whole week of walking to school fun. Last year, 36 countries took part in the event. That's a substantial increase over the event's beginnings in England in 1994, when a handful of schools participated in a walk to school week pilot. For more information, visit the official international website at www.iwalktoschool.org or the national website at www.goforgreen.ca/walktoschool.

Participating in International Walk to School Week is also a great way for schools to celebrate the International Year of Sport and Physical Education. CAHPERD has designated October 3 - 7 as "Keep the Physical in Education" Fall Week. During this week, schools across Canada are encouraged to participate in activities, challenges, and celebrations! For more information, visit www.yearofsportandpe.ca.

Go for Green coordinates the event in collaboration with the following provincial/territorial organizations: Green Communities Association in Ontario, the Way to Go! School Program in British Columbia, Resource Conservation Manitoba, Ecology Action Centre in Nova Scotia, SHAPE in Alberta, The Recreation and Parks Association of the Yukon, Velo Quebec and Go for Green's 13 provincial/territorial board members. Schools can register online at www.goforgreen.ca/walktoschool or by calling toll-free 1-888-822-2848.

The Public Health Agency of Canada supports Go for Green's Active Transportation initiative through the Physical Activity Contribution Program (PACP).

Organizational Background:

Go for Green is a national non-profit, charitable organization encouraging Canadians to pursue healthy, outdoor physical activities that protect, enhance or restore the environment.

Since 1992, Go for Green has worked in close partnership with health, environment, transportation, recreation and community organizations across the country; progressive Canadian corporations; and governments at all levels. During this time, Go for Green has supported more than 3,000 initiatives to enhance personal and environmental health.
Successful national programs initiated by Go for Green include TrailsCanada, Commuter Challenge, Active Transportation, Active & Safe Routes to School, Gardening for Life, Winter Green, Ice Dreams and "Go for Green" Prescription. For more information, visit www.goforgreen.ca.

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