New program aims to get more kids walking, wheeling to school in Windsor-Essex

There's a misconception out there that allowing kids to walk to school is not safe, says LeeAnn Poisson, principal of Safe Schools, WECDSB.

6 schools participating in active transportation pilot project

A $60,000 grant from Ontario Active School Travel is going toward promoting children getting to school using active transportation. (Shutterstock/Popova Valeriya)

A new, recently funded pilot project in Windsor-Essex wants to get more children getting to school using active transportation.

 LeeAnn Poisson, principal of Safe Schools Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, explained that active transportation refers to any form of human-powered transport, such as walking and riding a bike or a scooter.

"Our goal is to increase the number of students that are using active transport to get to and from school," she said on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Wednesday.

"What we're finding is, despite the availability of infrastructure like sidewalks and things like that, there are still a large number of parents that are choosing to drive their kids to school and it's causing problems, it's causing traffic congestion and air pollution. And let's face it, if we can get them taking active transport, it's healthier for students as well."

A number of local organizations, including the public health unit and all four area school boards, are involved in the project. They have received a $60,000 grant from Ontario Active School Travel in order to get the efforts off the ground.

Through the grant, the project will promote education about the benefits of active transportation, get kids excited about it, and clear up what Poisson said is a common misconception that it's not safe for students to get to school on foot, Poisson explained.

"There's a lot of research out there that being active, especially starting your day with physical activity, promotes physical and mental well-being," she said.

There are six schools participating in the initial pilot project: King Edward Public School, Margaret D. Bennie Public school, Talbot Trail Public School, Holy Name Catholic Elementary School, Stella Maris Catholic Elementary School, and École élémentaire Catholique Monseigneur-Jean-Noël.

Eric Nadalin, manager of chronic disease and injury prevention with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit — one of the partners involved — said the intention is to expand the program across the city and county in the future.

"The schools directly involved in this project are spread throughout our region and the systems built by this funding will have impacts across all schools and boards in Windsor-Essex," he said in a media release last week.

With some exceptions, students have been learning from home exclusively since the week before the April break due to the pandemic.

With files from Windsor Morning.


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