Walkolution News - June 2013  
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Walk Friendly ON
We are thrilled to announce that Green Communities' Canada Walks officially launched the WALK Friendly Ontario designation at the Complete Streets Forum held in Toronto on May 27. The program recognizes municipal excellence in walkability by awarding Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum designations to towns and cities from across Ontario.
The first round of applications will be accepted between July 1 and August 31. The Application Guide to help communities prepare is available at www.walkfriendly.ca.


Municipalities will be required to complete an application for designation, which benchmarks where they stand on more than 200 key walkability indicators. Sidewalk policies and networks of connected walking infrastructure, street festivals, public art, staff training, citizen engagement, and attractive public spaces are just a few of the criteria that applicants will report on, before their applications are reviewed and scored by a panel of experts.


"We know that people who engage in physical activity generally live longer and live better," said the Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "We also know that communities that are walk friendly bring a host of benefits, including a better quality of life. That's why I'd like to thank Green Communities Canada and those who have been working hard to make the WALK Friendly Ontario program all that it has become."


For more information: Kate Hall, Program Manager, WALK Friendly Ontario, 705-489-2110 (home office), khall@greencommunitiescanada.org.


Representatives of the five pilot WALK Friendly communities at the Complete Streets Forum. From left to right: Kate Hall - Program Manager, WALK Friendly Ontario; Mark Spencer - Vice President, Fort Erie Active Transportation Committee; Ashley Priem - Program Coordinator, EcoSuperior Environmental Programs; Sharon Mackinnon - Public Health Nurse, City of Hamilton; Allison Miller - Transportation Demand Management Coordinator, City of London; Stephanie Sciberras - Physical Activity Specialist, City of Kingston.



Mobile-Friendly Walkability Checklist!

 The Walkability Checklist is an easy to use audit tool that can be part of local walkability campaigns that engage residents in an assessment of the walking routes in their neighbourhood. Information collected goes into a database that can be used to create a walkability profile in your health unit region.


Now the Checklist is even easier to use! Take your phone or tablet

for a walk and audit your neighbourhood. Click here to access the mobile-friendly version, or scan the QR code with the camera on your mobile device. 


To learn more about how you can use this tool in a campaign in your community contact Kate Hall at khall@greencommunitiescanada.org

2012/13 Active School Travel Success 
It's been a fantastic school year for active school travel in Ontario and across Canada. We believe we are now starting to see some positive movement towards making active travel to school the norm, with many school districts creating active travel policies and charters. We were thrilled to see that active school travel was cited several times in the recommendations from the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel, as a positive action towards achieving the provincial objective of reducing childhood obesity by 20% by 2015. 
Active Healthy Kids Canada just released their most recent report card on the physical activity levels of Canada's children and incorporated active travel as a key indicator - sadly it only received a 'D-' but the exposure to the issue is fantastic for active school travel advocates across the country - more below. 
We held a successful and well-attended webinar series this spring with more planned, and active travel events and celebrations in schools and communities continue to inspire us. 
The release of the Ontario School Travel Planning case studies, a collaboration of Metrolinx and Green Communities, and recent polling data from Share the Road, point to a growing interest in active school travel with Canadians supportive of investments in children's mobility programming. We hope that we will soon see policies and sustained funding that will enable every school in Ontario (and can we hope, across Canada) to complete a School Travel Plan and implement actions to encourage active and safe travel to school. 

Active Healthy Kids Canada 2013 Report Card

Active Healthy Kids Canada (AHKC) launched the 2013 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth on May 21, 2013. This year's Report Card focuses on the decline in active transportation across Canada and the implications this is having on overall physical activity levels of children and youth. This is particularly timely for those involved in children's mobility issues, including safe routes to school programming.

Read the full Report Card here, including the assigned grades on 17 different indicators of how we measure up as a nation with respect to childhood physical activity and see why this year Canada received a D- for physical activity levels. AHKC is encouraging everyone to take advantage of their free communications tools to help pass along the findings of the Report Card - in addition to the short and long report cards, they have provided a ready made PowerPoint presentation, videos, an article ready for publishing, social media kit - we encourage you to make use of these fabulous resources in your work in children's mobility. 

Note 'Steps in the Right Direction' in the long version of the report card; see pages 87-97, for details of provincial/territorial promising practice active travel programs.

For more information, and to access the tools, go to www.activehealthykids.ca. Should you need further information, please contact AHKC at info@activehealthykids.ca.   

Share the Road's annual polling data highlights broad support for investment in active school travel programs
Share the Road Cycling Coalition has released their polling data, conducted by Strategic Communications Inc. with a representative sample of 1,523 adult Ontario residents over the period May 14-17, 2013. The annual survey gages Ontarians' attitudes towards cycling and this year included additional questions on active school travel. The data showed that 71% of Torontonians surveyed are supportive of funding for active transportation as part of the Metrolinx $30 billion Big Move. Of particular interest is the 89% who would support the provincial government investing in the development of active travel plans to promote walking and cycling to school. See complete details from the polling data here
2012/13 Active School Travel Winning Ontario Schools
Green Communities and the Heart and Stroke Foundation again recognize ten schools who have embraced active school travel this school year. The prizes have been generously provided by the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Jump Rope for Heart HeartSmart™ Points. Five of the schools will also receive a classroom set of pedometers from StepsCount. Congratulations to:

Algonquin Avenue Public School, Thunder Bay: Two Walking School Buses, currently led by teachers, started off with 20 students and now have 50 participating; and to promote cycling and cycle awareness the school held a bike rodeo. Some changes are being made to signage and parking areas in the school zone to create safer conditions for active travellers.


More good news from Thunder Bay - results of the pilot STP project at Ecole Gron Morgan and Corpus Christi schools: http://www.tbnewswatch.com/video/27485/School-Travel-Report.
Bellmere Jr. PS, Toronto: Creative Walking Wednesday events took place throughout the year, including a crazy hat contest made from recycled items to wear while walking to school and even all day; students danced to school making their best moves along the way - and some teachers met the students part way and danced the rest of the way to school with them! Students collected data on the number of cars and walkers and used this in math class to graph results and then make announcements to the rest of the school.
Bellmere PS
Students at Bellmere PS had fun with their hats made for Creative Walking Wednesday!

Emily Carr, Oakville: Walking/Wheeling Wednesdays at Emily Carr has increased the number of students walking from 30-35% to over 60% each week, with some classes reporting 100% student participation; and according to traffic counts there are 100 fewer cars using the school parking lot each week, saving over 500 kms of driving. The school made walking/wheeling to school fun for everyone (writing sidewalk messages was a coveted activity) and included classroom activities like 'how far is the school from your home?', using school board catchment area maps along with the iSchool Travel www.ischooltravel.org calculator. The school worked closely with Halton Region's Healthy Schools to promote the many benefits of walking, an anti-idling campaign was initiated and Halton DSB conducted traffic counts throughout the program. Two winning classes will get to participate in a Drums Alive! activity courtesy of a parent and the entire school will celebrate in a blacktop dance event during recess on June 26. 


"I just wanted to tell you how much our family has enjoyed walking to school on Walk and Wheel Wednesdays. The first Wednesday that we walked to school we were so surprised to find out that so many kids that are in my kids' classes and extra curricular activities live so close to us! Since then the kids have been out playing more after school and on weekends and I have even gotten to know some of the parents as well. I think that when neighbours get to know each other it makes it a safer, healthier and happier neighbourhood. We look forward to walking to school every Wednesday, and now we are even starting to walk on other days of the week too. A bit of fresh air and some exercise in the morning is good for us all, kids and adults!"
- Emily Carr Parent
Fairfield Elementary School, Amherstview: A Walking School Bus has been initiated as part of a regular Walking Wednesday program, with students being offered healthy snacks when they get to school. Meetings with community stakeholders as well as parent forums have been held to gain support and encourage participation. Classrooms are involved in some friendly competition to win the Golden Shoe award, awarded weekly to the class with the highest number of walkers.
A Walking School Bus at Fairfield Elementary.
Rick Hansen Public School, Aurora:
In May alone, students walked a total of 1,175 trips to school - equivalent to walking to Niagara Falls 7 times, saving 223 litres of gas (almost $6,000!) and avoiding 1,137 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions. Between February and June the average participation in Walking Wednesdays was 93%, culminating in near zero vehicles at the school gate. And school staff are setting a terrific example as 100% walked or cycled each month, even if it was to park and walk a few blocks.
Rick Hansen PS students walk with their mascot 'Pride'
Students learn some bike safety tips.

Robert Bateman Public School, Ottawa:
Winter Walk Day 2013's success has led to a tripling of students regularly walking to school. As the school implements the actions in their School Travel Plan they initiated a "Walk with a Teacher" as part of Walk on Wednesdays; teachers meet and greet students around the community and walk with them to the school.


St. Marguerite d'Youville School, Hamilton: winner of the City of Hamilton's School of the Year Award for Active Transportation, over 500 students and staff posed for this Yellow Walk and Roll to School Day photo, including over 150 bikes, roller blades, roller skates and scooters - a true celebration of active travel!
Let's Go St. Marguerite d'Youville!


St. Mary Catholic School, Elora:

One of Wellington Dufferin Guelph's six pilot School Travel Planning schools, St. Mary's has successfully petitioned the Township of Centre Wellington for a sidewalk in front of the school, to be constructed in July 2013; the Township is also creating a separated school bus lane north of the school that will ease congestion and ensure safe passage for bicycles.  Working with the Ontario Provincial Police, the school is addressing illegal parking in the school zone and collecting data on the number of vehicles at drop-off and pick-up times. Survey data was collected at the start of the STP showing active school travel rates of 35% for JK - grade 3 and 47.5% for Grades 6-8; follow-up data will be collected again at year-end for a comparison. St. Mary's school travel plan has set the foundation for building a culture of active travel at the school and both parents and staff are excited for what they can achieve next year.


SouthFields Village Public School, Caledon: A Walking Bingo was held as part of Winter Walk Day 2013 - students worked in groups and noted items in the neighbourhood on their bingo cards. This fairly new school has 500 students with a large percentage bused but despite this four walking school buses were started as part of Walking Wednesdays - teachers lead the WSBs initially but slowly parents are feeling more confident and walking their children as well. On some Wednesdays there has been a drop from 70 to 25 vehicles at the school gate. 

SouthFields Village Walking School Bus....Be cool to walk to school

Westminster Public School, Brockville: Thanks to the efforts of a strong and committed Leeds Grenville Lanark regional steering committee active school travel has gotten off to a great start this year. The committee oversaw the collection of data and preparation of action items for Westminster's School Travel Plan. In March the school was featured in a local media event with attendance from all the committee members. The Leeds Grenville Lanark committee are working to expand the program in the 2013/14 school year to more schools in Brockville as well as in Cornwall, Smiths Falls and Elgin in Rideau Lakes Township.
Westminster students, staff and guests celebration walk.


For more exciting active school travel success stories see our recent School Travel Planning Ontario case studies, prepared in partnership with Metrolinx: School Travel Planning in Action in Ontario: Successes and Lessons in Active and Sustainable School Transportation.

iwalk logo

Register now for International Walk to School, October 2013!   

IWALK Day - Wednesday, October 9 
IWALK Week - October 7-11 
For posters to display at your school download them here
Registered schools will receive stickers for students. 


Bike to School Week
This year more schools than ever participated in local Bike to Work events, changing them up to be Bike to School events! This is great news for the future of cycling as currently only an average of 1% of children ride their bikes to school across Canada. Here's a small collection of some amazing events - enjoy the inspiring videos and stories - we can learn much from these kids:

Hamilton, Ontario: Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School students, staff and New Hope Bike Co-op participated in the May 27 Bike to School/Bike to Work events: see video here. 
They also participated in events along with students and staff from St. Lawrence Catholic School: see video here.
Halifax, Nova Scotia:  
Bedford South School celebrated Bike to School Week as part of their School Travel Plan actions. Thanks to the Bedford South School Travel Planning Committee for this great collage. In Nova Scotia, School Travel Planning is managed by the Ecology Action Centre


Canmore, Alberta: video
In Alberta, School Travel Planning is managed by SHAPE Alberta


Vancouver, British Columbia: Bike to School week challenge winner for the last three years, Eric Hamber High School in Vancouver, British Columbia kicked off Bike to School Week with some great media attention. This year, their competition was tripled, with over 60 schools in Metro Vancouver registered for Bike to School Week 2013. HASTe BC partnered with HUB, the local cycling coalition, to rev-up this years campaign with prizes from MEC, Urban Racks and Norco Bikes. 
Bonaccord Elementary School in Surrey host Bike to School Week Breakfast with HASTe BC & MEC Mechanic.
In British Columbia School Travel Planning is managed by the Hub for Active School Travel (HASTe) BC


Winnipeg, Manitoba: Six schools participated in a pilot Bike to School Week program this year. Each school worked with local partners to arrange a variety of exciting events, including a 'bike blender' visit, bike safety and maintenance workshops, bike route mapping and travel surveys of students. 
In Manitoba School Travel Planning is managed by the Green Action Centre
Register now for the Walk21 conference in Munich  
www.walk21munich.com. The worldwide most significant conference on walking and liveable communities will make its German debut in Munich from 11-13 September, 2013. This is your chance to connect with experts from public administration and politics, consultancies and research institutions. Meet NGOs and activists from around the world and discuss the future of walking, the enhancement of urban quality of life and many other topics with them! 



 Dr. Catherine O'Brien has just released a new book: Lessons in Sustainable Happiness . The e-book builds on Dr. O'Brien's groundbreaking work on Sustainable Happiness and includes a chapter specifically for teachers. Dr. Catherine O'Brien assists ASRTS partners to capture and analyze data linking the school journey to sustainable happiness


UK Walk to School Week

A new report from Living Streets, as part of Walk to School week, has found that the number of children walking to school is declining. Research from a YouGov survey found that over a quarter of parents drive their children to school. A National Travel Survey from 2011 found 48% of children lived within a mile of their school yet 43% were driven to school. In 1997 53% of children were walking to school, now it has decreased to 49%. Living Streets believe that walking to school is an easy way to build exercise into a child's day. See details here.


Active Transportation Workshops

Canada Walks and Share the Road Cycling Coalition have teamed up to bring your community active transportation workshops and consulting expertise.These custom designed workshops can help communities who are striving for a bicycle friendly or walk friendly designation. Contact us for details. 



Coming this fall ... comprehensive training for School Travel Planning. Green Communities is developing training modules which we can customize to a community's unique needs. Contact us if you are interested in bringing GCC to your community to train your stakeholders and schools on how to deliver, grow and sustain a School Travel Planning project.
Out and About with Green Communities' Canada Walks
Since our April 2013 Walkolution News we have presented on School Travel Planning and WALK Friendly Communities at:
  • The Ontario Association of School Business Officials (OASBO) in London, Ontario; 
  • The Ontario Small Urban Municipalities Conference in New Tecumseth, Ontario; 
  • The Physical Activity Resource Centre Symposium in Toronto, Ontario; 
  • The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation's Complete Streets Forum in Toronto;
  • The Ontario Bike Summit in Toronto 

We will be presenting on School Travel Planning and the WALK Friendly Communities initiatives at:

  • Wellesley Institute, Between Health & Place: Understanding The Built Environment in Toronto in June; 
  • The Canadian Institute of Planners' annual conference: INFUSE in Vancouver in July;
  • The Munich Walk21 conference in September.

Canada Walks says good-bye to Mandy Johnson

We are sad to announce that Mandy Johnson will no longer be a consultant for Canada Walks, having accepted a position with the Town of Canmore. We hope you will join us in wishing Mandy all the very best. Green Communities will miss her commitment to walkability and it will be some time before we can find another one like her! In particular, Jacky Kennedy will miss her as together over the past 7 years they put walkability on Canada's agenda, starting with Walk21 Toronto 2007, the Guinness world record breaking walk and the launch of Canada Walks. Thanks Mandy and all the very, very best from your dear friends at Canada Walks and across Canada!
Incentive items for active school travel initiatives can be ordered through M.P. Russo & Associates www.mprusso.com. 
Let them know you heard of them through us! 




Donate Now Canada Walks Walkolution News profiles actions across Canada undertaken by Green Communities Canada and our many local partners to help create communities where walking is safe, easy, enjoyable, and inviting. By making a donation to the Green Communities Foundation you can provide vital support for this work.  Just click on the Donate Now button and indicate in the comments section that you'd like your gift to go to the work of Canada Walks. 


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