LETTER: What we learn from walking to school

A NEW program trialled in two Victorian primary schools has resulted in an impressive 34 per cent increase in walking trips to school.

The Change to Walking program ran for six weeks and used  simple prompts and small incentives to encourage students and families to walk, cycle or scoot at least one more day a week.

This is an amazing result, especially given the Change to Walking program began at the start of winter when cold weather was setting in.

The program was designed to address the concerns of parents at each school, mainly about safety and convenience.

Of students who were usually driven to school three or more days per week, 45 per cent walked more often while 84 per cent of those who already travelled regularly by foot, bike or scooter did so more often.

The results were encouraging and could inform future Walk to School programs. Only one in five children aged 5-17 get the recommended hour of physical activity every day. Walking to school is an obvious way to boost activity but we know that about 70 per cent of parents who travel with their kids to school do so by car, even those who live within 750 metres of school. Now they have experienced it their children are keen to do it more often, which is great.

Jerril Rechter, 

VicHealth chief executive