By Jerril Rechter, VicHealth CEO
Letter first published in the Sunraysia Daily 5 October 2012.
Monday October 8 is the first day of the new school term, and the first day of the 2012 Walk to School month.
Australian children are more inactive than ever before. It’s no wonder obesity is fast becoming the most common preventable risk factor for illness in the country.
Our attitude towards regular exercise needs to change. Increasingly, walking is viewed as a hassle rather than a joy, an inconvenience, rather than a necessity for good physical and mental health.
VicHealth recognises the urgent need to turn this trend around.
Last year around 60,000 students from 380 primary schools took part in VicHealth’s Walk to School Day. Walk to School celebrates the benefits of walking as kids’ number one mode of transport, while encouraging them to keep it up with prizes and certificates.
This year, we’ve upped the ante and are challenging children to start walking to and from school from the first day of term four (8 October) and keep it up for the 18 remaining school days that month. We’ve even created a handy iPhone app for kids and parents to log their walking activity.
As well as the multitude of health benefits walking provides, kids who walk develop better motor skills, coping, self-esteem and social skills. Walking every day will help students build a walking habit that’s good for them, good for their families and better for the environment.
I urge all parents and teachers to go to the Walk to School website and get their kids on the path to good health this October.