A citywide push is on to get more Christchurch children walking or wheeling to school.
Christchurch City Council has designated Wednesday 6 March as Walk or Wheel to School Day and is encouraging families with primary school aged children to leave their cars at home that day and walk, cycle, scoot or skate to school instead.
More than 30 primary schools have so far signed up to take part in the initiative, but Council Transport Operations Manager Steffan Thomas is hoping that more will jump on board.
“It’s not too late for schools to get involved,’’ says Mr Thomas. “The aim is to get as many children walking or wheeling to school as possible on 6 March and to demonstrate that active forms of transport are a viable alternative to taking the car.
“It has been proven that active travel to school can increase children’s concentration by up to four hours so when kids walk or wheel to school it is better for them and their learning.
“Studies have also found that children who travel actively to school have better spatial awareness and more road sense than those who are driven,’’ Mr Thomas says.
“There are also financial and environmental benefits when kids walk or ride to school - parents save money on fuel and there are less cars on the road.’’
Mt Pleasant School principal Chris Nord is among those throwing their support behind the Walk or Wheel to School initiative.
He says the community benefits through having less congestion outside the school gate when kids walk or ride to school, while the children themselves benefit from the physical activity.
“The children arrive in refreshed and energised. We really notice the difference – they walk into the classroom with a spring in their step and there’s a real advantage that carries through into their learning,’’ Mr Nord says.
Mr Thomas says while 6 March has been chosen as Christchurch’s official Walk or Wheel to School Day, if that date does not suit a school they can nominate another day, or days, during the year to take part in the initiative.
Free spot prizes will be offered to all schools who register to take part in Walk or Wheel to School Day and one lucky child could win a brand new bike by listening to MoreFM between 25 February and 5 March.
Schools that share photos or videos from their Walk or Wheel to School Day on social media and tag in the Christchurch City Council can also win a Pedalmania experience.