Children take a walk on the safe side

FORSTER Street crossing guard Brett Carhart knows first-hand the benefits of seeing children walking to school.

Working as a crossing guard at New Town Primary School for more than two years, Mr Carhart said he enjoyed keeping children safe and having a positive impact on their day.

“I have a lot of running jokes with many students and give out plenty of high fives each day,” he said

“I like to tell ‘knock knock’ jokes which the students and their families seem to get a laugh out of most days.

“It is a role that is appreciated in the school community.

“At Christmas and Easter, I get cards and gifts from the students, it is very rewarding.”

Mr Carhart had his lollipop at the ready on Friday 18 May when staff and students at New Town Primary School – including his five children – got involved with Walk Safely to School Day.

Now in its 19th year, National Walk Safely to School Day is a community initiative that raises awareness of the health, road safety, transport and environmental benefits that regular walking (especially to and from school) can provide for the long-term wellbeing of children.

It encourages primary school aged children to build walking into their daily routine by walking to and from school not just on Friday 18 May, but every day.

Aside from the physical benefits, regular walking also has a favourable impact on children’s cognitive and academic performance.

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman and chief executive officer Harold Scruby said physical inactivity was a major risk factor for many chronic diseases that could affect kids at different stages of their life, including mental illness, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

“One in four children in Australia are overweight or obese, and it is expected that numbers will reach one in three by 2020,” he said.

“We really need teachers, parents, carers and the community at large to get behind this event and its objectives – the best exercise for all of us is regular walking.

“Children require at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity. We should encourage them to include walking at the beginning, during and end of each day.”

The national initiative also promotes improved diets (by asking schools and P&Cs to host a healthy breakfast), positive environmental action, better use of public transport with reduced car-dependency and the vitally important road safety message: “Until they are 10, children must always hold the hand of an adult when crossing the road.”

It also encourages parents and carers to walk more, reducing dangerous traffic congestion around schools, while minimising the risk of Australian children developing heart disease and diabetes.

For more information about Walk Safely to School Day, visit www.walk.com.au/wstsd.

Caption: Crossing guard Brett Carhart with his children Kailee, Savanah, Talysha and Samara outside New Town Primary School.