International Walk to School (iWalk) is an international awareness event that takes place every October to raise awareness about walking to school. Schools are encouraged to run fun events and activities to inspire more children and parents to walk to school and to educate the school community on the benefits of walking to school. Some schools will celebrate iWalk as a one-day event while others will celebrate iWalk for a week or for the entire month.
Walking and Wheeling Campaigns are used to encourage active transportation to and from school and educate the school community on the benefits of doing so. Having regular walking and wheeling promotional campaigns and events throughout the school year can increase the likelihood of results and success.
There are a number of reasons to encourage walking and wheeling to school. Walking and wheeling can lead to improved physical and mental health of students. Walking and wheeling to school contributes to the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity children should acquire every day. An increase in active transportation also means fewer cars on the road. This means improvements in traffic and safety around schools. Fewer cars also results in improved air quality and environment. Finally, students who walk to school arrive alert and ready to learn and feel more connected to their community.
In Ontario, the iWalk event is part of a larger active transportation initiative called Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS). ASRTS is a collaboration of community partners such as health units from Middlesex-London, Oxford and Elgin-St. Thomas, Thames Valley District School Board, London District Catholic School Board, City of London, London Block Parent, Middlesex-London in motion™, and London’s Child and Youth Network, and many more.
ASRTS engages young students in active transportation such as walking and biking as a healthy, sustainable way to get around. The program was launched in 1996 following the success of similar programs in the UK, Australia and the US in creating a healthy way for families to start their day as part of an active community.
Literacy Tips While Walking to School:
- Discuss the route you are going to take to get to school and map it out
- Talk about the signs you see throughout your neighbourhood
- Point out cloud formations and talk about their shapes, what they look like
- Take the opportunity to talk to your child about what their day at school might be like
- Use a pedometer and count the steps it takes to get to school