Canadian children were issued a D grade in the annual Physical Activity for Children and Youth report card under the category of active transportation.
The recent survey revealed that only 28 per cent of children walk to school compared to 58 per cent of parents who walked to school when they were young.
There are several reasons for the decline in children walking or riding their bikes to get around these days. There is a broad range of legitimate safety concerns from traffic issues to abduction fears. Inclement weather, no sidewalks and distances all play a part in the decision-making process parents make when sending their children out into the community.
Although reasons not to allow children out and about on foot or on wheels are legitimate, there are ways to reduce the risks and take advantage of the benefits. Parents and guardians can walk or ride with their children to and from school or activities. By choosing to walk for all trips less than one kilometre, it translates to around 15 to 20 minutes of exercise daily.
It’s not possible for every parent or guardian to escort their child to school; however, there is probably someone in your neighbourhood that can. Why not organize a neighbourhood walk to school program where adults take turns actively transporting the children to and from? The benefits go beyond the physical for both adult and child.
For those who cannot take advantage of active transportation, there are other ways to keep kids healthy and active. By participating in organized sports and clubs, children are introduced to a wide variety of activities and experiences.
Locally we have many opportunities for kids to get involved.
There are organizations like Boundary Babe Ruth and Girls Fastball, Boundary Youth Soccer and 4-H clubs. There is the Piranha swim team, school-sponsored running clubs and sports programs. You will find dance and Jazzercise, as well as karate available for youth in the Boundary.
The Grand Forks recreation department (GFREC) also provides a variety of activities and programs for children and youth. The aquatic centre is a great place for kids to have good healthy, active fun in a safe controlled environment. Children seven years and up are able to swim at the pool without parent participation. However, it is encouraging to see families being active together.
The Child Passport is still available for those children born in 2003 and live within the City of Grand Forks or Area D. The passport program is an initiative to keep kids active into their teen years by providing free admission to drop-in programs through GFREC. It includes free admission to the aquatic centre and public skating.
The passport expires on Dec. 31, so if your child meets the criteria make sure to come by the recreation office with proof of birth and residence so they can splash at the aquatic centre all summer long for free.
Summer Red Cross swim lessons are available for registration now. There will be three sets running Monday to Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Set 1 is July 8 to 12, set 2 July 22 to 26, and Set 3 is Aug. 12 to 16. Christina Lake Red Cross lessons take place July 29 to Aug. 2.
Walking or wheeling to get around takes some organization and may take a little more of your time.
However, consider the implications active transportation can have in your life and the life of your child. Walk or wheel to the pool or other community activities and receive a double dose of healthy benefits.
For information on recreation programming and other community clubs and organization information give GFREC a call at 250-442-2202 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Submitted by Kim Johnson