New bill aims to get Alberta students out of cars
Edmonton MLA David Shepherd's Active School Week Act encourages walking, biking to school.
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Getting kids to walk, bike, skateboard or rollerblade to school is the aim of a private members’ bill introduced at the Alberta legislature Monday.
Edmonton-Centre MLA David Shepherd proposed the Active School Week Act, which would mandate that schools hold activities throughout the first week of October each year encouraging kids to use active transportation.
Shepherd, an avid cyclist, said the bill was sparked by personal experience.
“When I take the opportunity to bike to work, or on occasion to walk to work, I always arrive in a better frame of mind – clear headed, more energy, and I feel more focused and ready to get into the day,” he said.
Shepherd said the bill also addresses climate change by addressing carbon footprints.
He met with the education ministry as well as representatives from schools, the medical community and cycling groups to draw up the bill, which will have to go through several more readings before it becomes legislation.
A report released earlier this month, by ParticipAction, ranked Canada near the bottom of the barrel in children's activity among a group of 38 countries.
Alberta Medical Association board member Dr. Kim Kelly, who supports the bill, is involved in a “Walking School Bus” program at Belgravia school that sees adults meet a group of elementary students five blocks from the school and walk with them.
“The walking school bus has really role modeled the behaviour for our school,” Kelly said, adding the program has gotten more students and staff using active transportation overall.
Kelly said 91 per cent of Canadian kids get less than the recommended daily amount of physical activity, which negatively affects their overall health as well as their educational outcomes.
“It’s a pretty widespread problem,” she said.
“The goal would be to help them build healthy habits that would last for a lifetime.”