Active School Travel Project Goes Nationwide

Organizations across Canada partner to help students and families develop healthy physical activity habits

WINNIPEG, March 16 /CNW/ - Green Communities Canada announced today the national expansion of a project that makes it safer for students to use active transportation methods like walking and cycling to travel to and from school. Funding of $2.1 million from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and the Public Health Agency of Canada will enable School Travel Planning (STP) to reach 120 schools, resulting in healthier, happier students and reducing the incidence of chronic disease.

"Being physically active is part of a healthy lifestyle. It also helps prevent chronic disease, including cancer," said Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq. "I am pleased to support a project that brings partners together to put in place safe and healthy ways to get to and from school."

School Travel Planning is an established, community-based model that contributes to chronic disease prevention through activities that promote the use of active transportation for children. Thanks to funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, George Weston Limited and Loblaw Companies Limited, School Travel Planning was successfully pilot tested in four provinces from 2007 to 2009. Surveys showed 13 per cent of families reported that they drive less as a result of the pilot intervention.

"Nearly 60 per cent of children are being driven less than 2 km to school," says Jacky Kennedy, Director of Canada Walks, Green Communities Canada, "And over half of parents whose children are currently driven see the option of their child walking or biking to school as convenient and appealing. Clearly, there is tremendous potential to shift school travel behaviour toward active choices, and School Travel Planning is the model that can take us there."

School Travel Planning will now expand nationwide thanks to the $2.1 million in funding through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer's CLASP initiative. The Partnership is an independent organization funded by the federal government to accelerate action on cancer control. CLASP, which stands for Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Prevention, unites coalitions of organizations from across different jurisdictions and disease areas to collaborate on chronic disease prevention.

"The School Travel Planning project is an excellent example of an initiative that was tested in one part of the country and, using the lessons learned from that pilot, is now being made available across Canada. The CLASP funding will enable more Canadian children and families to benefit from this effort," says Jon Kerner, PhD, the Partnership's senior scientific advisor and Chair of Primary Prevention.

The evaluation component during the School Travel Planning expansion will continue to be managed by project partner University of Toronto under the guidance of Dr. Guy Faulkner. An exciting new partnership with Cape Breton University led by Dr. Catherine O'Brien will enrich School Travel Planning work. Her innovative research on sustainable happiness will be integrated into the School Travel Planning model.

Dr. O'Brien explains that "Sustainable happiness contributes to individual, community and/or global well-being and does not exploit other people, the environment, or future generations. The enjoyment that a child, or anyone, might experience while walking and cycling is an ideal example of sustainable happiness."

The new funding will allow School Travel Planning to reach schools in all provinces and territories across Canada, providing an opportunity to demonstrate its viability in diverse settings.

About Green Communities Canada

Green Communities Canada is a national association of non-profit organizations that deliver innovative, practical environmental solutions to Canadian households and communities. For more information, visit www.saferoutestoschool.ca/schooltravel.asp.

About the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer is an independent organization funded by the federal government to accelerate action on cancer control for all Canadians. For more information, visit partnershipagainstcancer.ca.

SOURCE Green Communities Canada

For further information: For further information: Lisa Marchitto, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Toronto, ON, Ph: (416) 619-5782; Public Health Agency of Canada Media Relations, (613) 941-8189; Winnipeg media contact: Tamara Bodi, McKim Cringan George, Winnipeg, MB, Ph: (204) 284-2221 ext. 349; Jacky Kennedy, Canada Walks, Green Communities Canada, Toronto, ON, Ph: (416) 992-5496; Dr. Catherine O'Brien, School of Education, Health & Wellness, Cape Breton University, Cape Breton, NS, Ph: (416) 992-5496

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