Horsham students walk ‘n’ wheel to school to reduce climate impacts

Monday 10 October, 2022

Horsham College students are walking ‘n’ wheeling their way to school to boost health and reduce climate impacts as part of a new weekly program, ‘Move it! Mondays, launched today.

Move it! Mondays encourages Horsham College secondary students and their teachers to walk, ride, scoot or skate to school every Monday to boost physical activity and help reduce climate change. A safe, drop off zone for parents that allows students to actively travel part of their way to school has also been set up.

This activity is part of an Active Travel 4 Climate Action program co-designed with Horsham College students in partnership with Cancer Council Victoria, Grampians Health and Monash University. The program aims to boost active travel among teens while empowering them to make small changes that help address their concerns around the climate emergency.

Horsham-based community health nurse from Grampians Health, Janine Harfield is supporting this project and the school’s efforts to increase active travel among its students.

“Walking, cycling, skating and scooting to or from school is great for students’ health and the environment, Ms Harfield said. “Actively travelling to school can be a fun start to their day that helps students meet their daily recommended physical activity levels and has a positive impact on their health and mental wellbeing.

“The good news is not only are there health benefits but travelling 7 kilometres by bike instead of car saves one kilogram of carbon dioxide [i] and contributes to lower carbon emissions.”

Horsham College’s principal, Robert Pyers, said his students noted that overcoming barriers to safety and having facilities were important measures that would help increase active travel among secondary students at the school.

“We’re installing new bike sheds and scooter racks, along with a Tag-On system for year 7 and 8 that will see students earn house points when they walk, bike, scoot or skate to school. This Tag-On system will reassure parents that their child has safely arrived after walking or riding,” Mr Pyers said.

“On our first Move it! Mondays, we’ll also be launching our Active Travel Award and Active Travel House perpetual shields that will recognise students, who have led the way at school by making healthy active changes. These awards will be given out at the end of school term.”

Cancer Council Victoria’s director of Prevention, Craig Sinclair, said research has found the majority of Australian students do not walk or ride to school in a typical week [ii], and to date, most research into active travel has focused on primary students.

“We all want our kids to grow up healthy and happy, but too often, the barriers they face being active daily can seem overwhelming, like feeling safe as they walk or ride, being too far out of town or having the confidence to cross a busy street,” Mr Sinclair said.

“This grassroots project, co-designed with Horsham College students and Grampians Health, is a fantastic effort to overcome some of these issues as a community.

“The project, funded by the Department of Education and Training and part of the Active Schools initiative, will inform new approaches that may help all Victorians students develop the skills, confidence and motivation to be active for life, while building healthy, sustainable environments in their communities.”

About the program:

The Active Travel 4 Climate Action is a behavioural intervention trial funded by the Department of Education and Training which aims to get secondary students more active.

The trial is part of the Active Schools initiative which was developed to ensure all Victorian Students have the skills, confidence and motivation to be active in life.