Families with school-aged children in the Park Dale School  area were encouraged to give the car a rest and walk to school last week. International Walk to School Week was October 4 to 8, 2010.
On Wednesday, October 6, 2010, students, staff and community celebrated Walk to School Day. Special guest, Belleville Mayor Neil Ellis, was an active participant.
“Park Dale encourages students to walk to school throughout the year,” said Tinneke Wilson, a teacher at Park Dale School and mother of two. “Walk to School Week provides an opportunity to kick off our walking activities and celebrate our community.”
Studies repeatedly demonstrate the positive effects that daily physical activity has on improving self-esteem and academic achievement.
“Life is busy,” stated Jennifer Ronan, a public health nurse at Hastings & Prince Edward Counties Health Unit and mother of two. “Many of us drive our kids to school because we don’t seem to have enough time in the day. However, if we make a commitment to walk to school, even one day a week, our children will benefit. If the distance is too far to walk, a parent who normally drives could park in a safe spot and walk partway with children.”
International Walk to School Day provides families and communities with the opportunity to celebrate active transportation and to discover the simple joy of walking to school.
Hastings & Prince Edward Counties Health Unit urges families to participate in this annual event. It celebrates active transportation (walking, cycling or wheeling). Active transportation is an opportunity to increase daily physical activity, improve safety and reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. At the same time, it allows people to socialize with their neighbours and spend some quality time with their children.
The health unit also encourages families to take the time to think about the “walkability” of the route to school. Are there sidewalks or paths that lead to the school? Is the walk pleasant and appealing?
According to the 2010 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity, two-thirds of Canadian families indicate that they live within a reasonable distance to walk or cycle to school. Only half the children report having walked to school and 80 percent report never having cycled to school. Park Dale School is a walking school, meaning no students are bused.
Park Dale School is located in northwest Belleville and serves approximately 350 students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8. The school is within walking distance for all of its students.Park Dale is a Healthy Active School Community with computer labs, gymnasium with stage, large playground area and soccer field. The school provides all levels of Special Education services. An Instrumental Music program is available to Grade 7 and 8 students. The learning resource centre is the hub for students seeking advanced research opportunities. At Park Dale, Learning First is the motto for all. School spirit is seen in the unity and family atmosphere that permeates the building.
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