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SHAPE encourages participation in events

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  • SHAPE encourages participation in events

    Have you taken the opportunity recently just to sit back and think about your elementary school days? Do you remember the first time you walked to school? The sense of freedom, fear and wonder all wrapped up in one. Do you remember when you rode your bike to school for the first time? You planned your route, got your bike ready for the trek, and then packed an extra juice box or two and a granola bar just in case you needed the extra energy?

    The sad truth is that every year less kids pull on their sneakers, or strap on their favorite CSA approved bike helmet and head to school.

    SHAPE (Safe Healthy Active People Everywhere) is a non-profit organization that promotes the Active & Safe Routes to Schools programs throughout Alberta. We encourage students to walk or bike to school on a regular basis! SHAPE promotes active transportation of students which in turn promotes student health, benefits the environment and reduces traffic congestion in and around schools.

    SHAPE encourages participation in events such as International Walk to School Week, Winter Walk Day and/or Bike to School Day as a vehicle to educate and motivate students to walk to school on a regular basis. We promote safety through the education of safety rules of walking/biking to school as well as programs such as Walking Buddies or Walking School Buses which provide support and/or supervision to students walking to school.

    SHAPE provides encouragement and support to school communities to encourage their students to walk or bike to school. We work directly with school councils and/or school administration to develop ideas and plans for their school. Schools can choose event days, walking programs or a weekly/month Walking Day to promote their plans.

    The truth is, that we can all help stem the tide when it comes to getting not only our children, but our families active again! Something as simple as a Walking School Bus is a vital first step in actively engaging our children in physical activity, but it serves a greater purpose. There is something incredible about driving through a community on your way to work and seeing twenty or thirty students and parents on their way to school, laughing, giggling, and engaging in the building blocks of physically active lifestyle.

    Do you want to be apart of the solution but don’t know how to start? Here are a couple great ways you can start!

    International Walk to School Week
    is celebrated the first week of October (October 4-8, 2010). International Walk to School Week gives children, parents, school teachers and community leaders an opportunity to be part of a global event as they celebrate the many benefits of walking. Over 42 countries and millions of walkers from around the world walked to school together for various reasons – all hoping to create communities that are safe places to walk.

    Winter Walk Day will be Feb 9, 2011 and we encourage everyone register for the event, then on Winter Walk day to walk at least 15 minutes outside and then record the total minutes their group walked. In the past we had over 72,000 participants walking over 2 million minutes from schools, workplaces and community groups. Take time to enjoy winter....walk to school, walk your dog, walk to the mailbox....walk for your health, walk for fun, walk to enjoy great outdoors!

    Alberta Bike to School Day - June 3, 2010-- we will be encouraging students to bike to school that day....schools might want to host bike rodeos or bike training events prior to event in prepare students.

    School Travel Planning - School Travel Planning is a community-based approach that aims to increase the number of children choosing active transportation modes to get to and from school, thereby addressing the issues of sustainability, safety and health associated with the school run.

    For more great tips and ideas or to register for one of these great events visit:

    -- Bev Esslinger

  • #2
    The current group of public trustees, of which Bev Esslinger is a member, has made walking to school impossible for many inner city children, where half of schools were shut down permanently on June 29th.

    Elementary students are now forced to cross some of Edmonton's busiest roads (e.g. 107th Avenue, 101st Street, 97th Street, 111th Avenue, 118th Avenue) to get to their designated schools.

    Walking is obviously not a viable option for a young child in these circumstances, so the EPSB is offering free yellow bus rides for displaced students.

    Trustee Essligner supported every closure recommendation put to a vote earlier this year. There is a disconnection between her contribution as a guest columnist and her actions as a politician.

    Throughout the sector review process, which now encompasses more than 70 schools in established Edmonton neighbourhoods, parents have struggled to make the point to the planning department that walking to school represents an important value for us.

    We've never gained any ground with this argument. Administrators tell us they've created a system whereby different schools offer different "programming fits." Our responsibility as parents is to find the best match for our kids and to arrange transportation by car or bus to that location.

    The majority of EPSB students no longer attend schools within walking distance of their homes.

    This statistic is celebrated the school board. It is taken as a measure of success of the EPSB's prime directive: to be a district of choice.

    Every spring, ETS buses are covered with advertising, paid for by tax dollars, trumpeting all the alternative programming offered by the EPSB. The Edmonton Examiner seemingly stays in business based on all the revenue it brings in by selling advertorial space to the district. What you'll never see is so much as a pixel of ink devoted to the advantages of sending your child to her or his local community school. There's nothing at all about the health, educational and environmental benefits of being able to begin the morning with a walk or a bike ride.

    Given she has served for so long as a trustee (and for many years as board chair) for a district which pursues policies (such as the emphasis on niche programming and now school closures at a giddy pace) that forces kids into cars, it is astonishing to see Ms. Esslinger's name attached to this piece.


    • #3
      What Green Grovenor said.

      To walk to school, kids have to have community schools. Communities that are close enough to school to make walking possible, and communities that know each other, know all the kids, and look out for the kids when they are on the street.

      The disconnect with the Trustee's words above and the fact the EPSB has closed 18 community schools in 10 years is breathtaking.


      • #4
        This is an admirable idea which will hopefully find great success.

        As an example, our family drives to school four times / day on Monday-Friday, or 20 trips per week. We would much prefer our children to walk but we don't let them because of traffic / safety concerns. However, we may be willing to let them walk with a trusted adult as part of a 'walking school bus.' I'd be interested in knowing if there are any such 'walking school buses' in the city ... and if SHAPE assists in starting such an initiative.
        Edmonton: Capital of Canada's Bold West!