Walking and biking to school may get more common at Alexander elementary in Abbotsford, thanks to a pilot project that can move ahead with provincial funding.
The school sent in a proposal for the Active School Travel Pilot Program, and was one of 12 schools across the province to secure a $10,000 grant. The end goal is to get more families out of their cars onto two legs or two wheels, to improve their health.
“The outcome that we hope to see is that the grant will improve the overall health of our students, staff and parents,” said principal Tara Plantinga. “Through the planned initiatives, we hope that the school community will become educated on the importance of active school travel to increase physical/mental health, strengthen social/peer connections, decrease traffic congestion and injury risks, and reduce poor air quality.”
The proposal was created by the school staff team along with a Healthy School Nurse from Fraser Health. Now, they’ll be partnering with the school’s Parent Advisory Council and the ICBC Road Safety Educator to get their plan up and running.
“We hope the school community feels inspired and encouraged to use active modes of school travel and that it results in a school-culture shift at Alexander Elementary toward active living,” Plantinga said.
The Active School Travel Pilot Program is designed to increase the number of students using active transportation, such as walking or biking, in their daily commute between home and school. The program is administered by BC Healthy Communities Society.
The Province’s initial two-year investment of $400,000 supported program development and the participation of 11 schools in January 2021. An additional investment of $280,000 this year meant students at 12 new schools can take part.
Some of the projects planned include mapping projects, skill-building and safety education opportunities for students and parents, shared bikes, scooters and skateboards for students, reducing traffic volume, and adding amenities like bike racks and improved signage.
“Student health and well-being are a priority for our government,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “Regular physical activity and positive mental well-being are essential parts of a healthy lifestyle, especially for children. I’m proud to see our government investing in innovative programs like the new Active School Travel Pilot Program. This program will support students to have healthy and active lives while safely getting to school.”
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