Published in The Standard, February 28, 2013
WARRNAMBOOL children have been recognised as some of the state’s most active, with 40 per cent of pupils regularly walking or riding to school.
Bicycle Network Victoria presented Warrnambool Primary School with a $1000 reward yesterday for its success in getting pupils out of the car and onto the footpath.
Warrnambool City Council also received a plaque for the most active regional council for the region’s performance at the 2012 Ride2School Day.
“The awards presented today really belong to the schools and the kids because they are the ones creating change and that change is making Warrnambool a better place,” council’s travel smart officer Nicole Wood said.
The region had the highest proportion of schools signed up for last year’s National Ride2School Day.
Half of Merrivale Primary School pupils regularly walk or ride to school.
Warrnambool Primary will use the money to fund its Ride2School Day next month, which encourages children to walk, ride, skate or scooter to school.
Only one-third of Australian pupils meet the minimum guideline of engaging in moderate or intensive physical activity for 60 minutes each day.
Ride2School facilities manager Jeff McPhan said the awards would generate greater community awareness and enable the school to hold activities for Ride2School Day.
“If the school wants to hold a healthy breakfast, competitions, or produce flyers to promote Ride2School day, they can do so without being out of pocket,” he said.
He also said the campaign had effects on the wider community, as people were more likely to adopt an active lifestyle upon seeing more students riding or walking to school.
Bicycle Network Victoria said one-quarter of Australian children were overweight or obese, while physically active children were more likely to become healthy, active adults.
The organisation said that in the 1970s, 80 per cent of students rode or walked to school, but today the figure was 20 per cent.
Councillors and 18 pupils from local primary schools gathered at the Archie Graham Community Centre yesterday for a Healthy Moves planning meeting, where the awards were presented.
The pupils brainstormed ideas for campaigns and events they could hold throughout the year to promote active, healthy lifestyles.
Grade 6 pupils Millie Tampion and Ashalee Smiley-Jones said the Ride2School campaign had inspired them to walk to school more often and lead an active lifestyle.
The two 11-year-olds, along with thousands of Australian children, will take part in Ride2School Day on Friday, March 22.