Three Vancouver Island schools have been selected to participate in a new provincial government initiative aimed at increasing the number of students using active transportation between home and school.
The pilot project will be rolled out at 11 total schools across the province including Sangster Elementary in Colwood, Cumberland Community School and Sir James Douglas Elementary School in Victoria.
“This is an exciting program that will help students be physically active at the start and finish of their school day,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Our government is proud to work collaboratively with communities to break down barriers and support more students and their families to walk, wheel, cycle or skateboard to school and back safely.”
The Active School Travel Pilot Program will provide $400,000 over two years, which will help provide funding, information and resources to participating schools to support activities.
The Province says the program will support activities that include:
- regular events and incentives to increase regular walking and biking to school;
- assessments, e.g., mapping the best route to school;
- skill-building opportunities for students and parents;
- expansion of the School Streets project to reduce traffic volume around schools;
- incentive programs;
- loaner bikes, scooters and skateboards for students; and
- amenities and infrastructure improvements, including bike racks and improved signage.
“Active commuting allows students to spend more time outside, improving their mental and physical health, while staying connected with their community. It also lessens traffic congestion around schools, which further supports student safety and reduces the carbon footprint,” reads a statement from the Province of BC.
The government says that the outcome of the program will be monitored and tracked in order to plan for future initiatives that will increase walking and cycling to school for students and their families.
“Health, wellness and an active lifestyle have so many benefits for students including improved learning outcomes and longer attention spans,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “We welcome the pilot and encourage all students and their families throughout B.C. to make their school commute an active one.”
The government funding will be provided directly to BC Healthy Communities Society – a provincewide not-for-profit group that facilitates the ongoing development of healthy, thriving and resilient communities – who will be in charge of delivering the program.
“The health and well-being of our students is a top priority for us, and promoting active and safe travel to school is part of that,” said Margo Musslewhite, principal, Sangster Elementary in Colwood. “To achieve long-term success for this type of project, we know it will take a team effort. We’re delighted for the opportunity to work with many of our community partners and BC Healthy Communities Society to build on our efforts to engage young people to enjoy the benefits of active, safe travel to Sangster Elementary.”
More information on the new pilot project for active transportation can be found online here.