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DRIVING OUR KIDS TO UNHEALTHY HABITS?

- Health Unit Encourages Local Families to Park the Car and Get Their Children Walking to School…and Better Health -

With Canadian youth getting a failing grade when it comes to being active, the local Health Unit wants students in this area to improve their mark.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is encouraging students, families, teachers and principals to be active on their way to school, during the school day or after class. The call to action goes out as part of International Walk to School Month taking place in October.

“Walking to school is a lost tradition for many students in our region, and that is robbing them of an important source of physical activity,” says Heather Grundy, a Health Promoter with the HKPR District Health Unit. “We encourage students, families and other members of the school community to pick up the pace in October to be more active. Park the car, and instead, walk, skip, or cycle to school.”

For families who live too far away from school, Grundy suggests walking to their bus stop in the mornings or taking a stroll together after school as much as possible in October. “Walking is a great way to be active because it is easy to do anywhere, anytime,” she says. In the classroom, she suggests teachers can also tie International Walk to School Month to other parts of the curriculum. Tracking the distance students walk can be incorporated into math class, or shown on a map as part of a geography lesson, Grundy adds.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend children and youth accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Studies show regular activity improves fitness and heart health, helps students do better at school, reduces stress and provides social opportunities with peers. However, many children and teens are not active enough for their own good, according to Active Healthy Kids Canada.

In its recent 2013 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, the organization gives a grade of ‘D-minus’ for physical activity levels among Canadian youth. One of the big problems, Active Healthy Kids Canada finds, is that parents are driving their children to school and other destinations, meaning that youth are losing out on important sources of physical activity such as walking, biking, wheeling, inline skating or skateboarding.

“When we let children and youth walk, bike, or blade to places, we’re helping them become more active each day, which over time, will benefit their overall health,” says Grundy.

Active Healthy Kids Canada’s own research shows that if families encouraged children to walk for trips less than a kilometre, they could bank an additional 10 to 15 minutes of active time each trip. “It all adds up and gets children closer to the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day,” she notes.

For more information and resources to get students more active, local families and members of school communities are encouraged to visit Safe Routes to School.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Heather Grundy, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100,

or Lisa Kaldeway, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569,

or Sue Shikaze, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 457-1391.

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