As a child, you probably wore down a few pairs of shoes by walking to your neighbourhood school. For better or for worse however, today’s children are more likely to be taking advantage of their parents’ taxi service to get to school.
Even though the majority of children today live less than one kilometre away from school, those who actually walk or bike to school are much rarer than they were just a few decades ago. According to the results of a study that involved close to 1,500 pupils from Trois-Rivières and Montreal, only a third of elementary-school children walk or bike to school. In 1971, approximately four children out of five aged 7 and 8 actually walked to school, compared to roughly one child out of three today. Moreover, figures indicate that between 1998 and 2003, the number of children who walked to school in Montreal had decreased, while those taking the school bus had increased.
Considering the context in which we find ourselves today, with a steady and worrisome increase in childhood obesity and sedentariness, these findings are indeed troubling. Particularly since these few minutes of daily exercise could undoubtedly help improve the state of our children’s overall health and waistlines. Nevertheless, this situation is not easy to rectify. For many busy parents, it is easier to drop their children off at school, and for others, they simply live too far from school to allow their children to walk. Moreover, many parents fear for their children’s safety as pedestrians or cyclists. This concern calls attention to the serious need for improvements in the urban infrastructures of many Canadian cities. If you have school-aged children, perhaps you could consider encouraging them to get to school by their own means. It is a good option for their health, and for our environment.