Go for Green

Go for Green

September 19, 2005 10:33 ET

Go for Green: Schools Invited to 'Put Their Best Foot Forward' and Apply for Awards During International Walk to School Week

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 19, 2005) - Schools could walk away with $500 when they participate in International Walk to School Week (October 3 - 7, 2005.)

International Walk to School Week is an annual campaign that promotes the health and environmental benefits of walking to school. Students participate by walking part or all of the way to school on one or more days of the week. At some schools, students, parents, teachers and community leaders will meet at a location and then walk the rest of the way together.

Schools that complete the Awards Application Form after the event will be entered into a draw for one of three awards of $500, a banner, environmental games from Intelli-Kid™ and other prizes. Entrants could also win a provincial/territorial award, including a banner and other incentives.

"Walking to school is an easy way to build daily physical activity into a child's life, yet less than 50% of Canadian children walk to school(1)," said Jeff LeBlanc, the New Brunswick board representative for Go for Green, the organization that coordinates the event in Canada. "Children tend to spend much of their day inactive, sitting in school, in front of the TV and at the computer. It's a disturbing trend in this country, where childhood obesity has nearly tripled among Canadian children aged seven to 13 over the past 20 years.(2)"

Regular physical activity offers many benefits to children, including cardiovascular fitness, healthy weight maintenance, positive self-esteem, and the development of strong muscles and bones. There are environmental reasons to walk, also. "When there are fewer cars on the road, fewer emissions are released into the air we breathe," said Leblanc. "Fewer vehicles also result in safer, calmer streets that are more pedestrian-friendly."

Last year, thousands of students from across Canada participated in International Walk to School Week, now celebrated in 36 countries. Schools can register their participation online at www.goforgreen.ca/walktoschool. The Awards Application Form is also available by calling Go for Green toll-free at 1-888-822-2848.

International Walk to School Week is a component of the national Active and Safe Routes to School program. Other program components include "no idling zones" in front of schools, and a "Walking School Bus" initiative, where parents take turns walking with a group of neighbourhood children to and from school.

Go for Green coordinates Active and Safe Routes to School in collaboration with the following provincial/territorial organizations: Recreation Parks Association of the Yukon; Ecology Action Centre (Nova Scotia); Resource Conservation Manitoba, SHAPE Alberta, Velo Quebec, Green Communities Association of Ontario, the Way to Go! School Program of British Columbia, and Go for Green's 13 provincial/territorial board members.

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.

For more information about International Walk to School Week in other countries, visit the IWALK official Web site at www.iwalktoschool.org.

Go for Green is a national non-profit, charitable organization that encourages Canadians to pursue 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. For more information, visit www.goforgreen.ca.

(1) 2004 National Survey on Active Transportation, Go for Green

(2) Tremblay, Mark and Willms, Doug, Canadian Population Health Initiative Identifies Obesity as Research Priority, CIHI Directions ICIS - Volume 9 No. 3, Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2003, (www.cihi.ca)

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