How do you get your children to school each day?
Do you drive them or do a hybrid of walking and driving like children from West Ipswich State School?
Maybe you join the walking bus like children at Woodlinks State School?
In the 1980s about 80 per cent of students walked or rode to school.
Today only 20 per cent of students use active travel methods even though the majority of primary school aged children live less than two kilometres from their school.
Ipswich City Council’s Healthy Active School Travel (HAST) program encourages active transport options such as walking, cycling, scooting, skateboarding, public transport and carpooling.
Ipswich West State School has received $4000 in Ipswich City Council HAST grants from their commitment to active travel in 2018 that saw an increase in the amount of families who now walk to school.
They will use this grant money to come up with innovative ways to encourage families to reduce their car use.
Ipswich West State School students Jackson Hook and Taylor Houle wheel out the incentives from 99 Bikes.
Ipswich West State School community support worker Carlotta Graham said their number one priority was raising awareness around physical activity, eating healthy and living a healthier lifestyle in general.
“We were thrilled to receive two grants, it makes us feel all the hard work and effort was worth it,” Ms Graham said.
“Everyone is so time poor and we are aware of that. We want to find ways to safely travel to school that is also actively.
“If you don’t have time to walk from home, instead we will promote parking further from school, even if it’s a couple of hundred metres away.”
The school set up a park and walk event each Friday last year that involved parking in a car park down the road. Everyone would meet as a group and walk to school.
“It was a great opportunity to talk about road safety as well. How to cross the road safely for example,” Ms Graham said.
“It was hugely successful and we had great feedback. Even when the program finished, many parents have continued to do this off their own bat.”
Woodlinks State School walking bus.
Woodlinks State School also received an Ipswich City Council HAST grant for $2000 for showing the greatest improvement in active travel.
Every Wednesday before school, teachers start a ‘walking school bus’ from three meeting points – each about a kilometre away – and wind their way through the local streets.
They also had Active Travel Passports which gave the children the chance to earn prizes such as yoyos, skipping ropes, handballs and the chance to go into a draw to win a scooter or bike.
Inclusion teacher Michael Hamilton said the program was very successful and had become part of the schools culture.
“We wanted to get students involved in making healthy choices,” Mr Hamilton said.
“The HAST initiative was successful and it did reduce the amount of cars parking in front of the school.
“Now we are looking to build the walk into a community event run by parents.”
Council’s Program Officer (Physical Activity) Claudia Lee said HAST initiatives were important as part of council’s commitment to developing healthy, happy and active children in our communities.
“The emphasis is on active travel and road safety,” she said.
“What I love is that each school is finding their own ways to do HAST. It then becomes something the school continues to do beyond council’s involvement.”
Three ways to make the most out of healthy active school travel:
- Find a safe place to park further away and walk to school to pick up or drop off children, knowing that you’re helping to improve your family’s health and wellbeing
- Use walking time to chat to children about their day, or strengthen their connection to the outdoor environment by examining trees, leaves, bugs and buildings along the route
- Suggest simple games or activities to improve your child’s cognitive skills, balance or coordination such as skipping or taking inclined paths to encourage greater physical effort
Schools participating in the program this year are:
Fernbrooke State School
Staines Memorial College
Leichhardt State School
Collingwood Park State School