How would you encourage Calgary’s children (and their parents) to choose active modes of transportation for travel to and from school?
A great deal of attention is now being paid to student health. As a trustee and an RN, I have been heavily involved in provincial and national collaborative work designed to improve student health. Physical activity is an area of emphasis. With new emphasis on student health, the promotion of healthy physical activity will lead to a cultural shift whereby students and parents will recognize the imperative for active living. The link to an active lifestyle, proper nutrition and resiliency is clear. Physical activity, coupled with good eating habits, improve student learning outcomes. This, in turn, leads to an enhanced sense of self worth and a more resilient child. As a district, we have engaged our parents through our school councils in evenings focused on healthy living and resilience, bringing in speakers with expertise in the subjects. When you have an engaged parent and school community, creating positive change becomes much easier. We have also held family health evenings, where administrative experts have spent the evening providing information to families on the importance of an active, healthy lifestyle. Engaging the entire school community in the promotion of an active lifestyle will go a long way to providing the momentum that will encourage students to choose active modes of transportation.
How would you work with parents and the City to provide safe routes to walk and bike to Calgary’s schools, including traffic safety measures in the vicinity of the schools themselves?
There are several things that can be done to enhance student safety.
• As a board, we have had conversations with the mayor and aldermen regarding student safety while they get to and from schools. A significant point of emphasis has been the need to design school, ‘footprints’ so that student safety is ensured through effective, safe traffic flow. The need to plan effectively for safe school infrastructure locations is critical. I would continue to advocate for this.
• Innovative ideas, like Nike’s, ‘Human Bus’ are promising in that they encourage students to meet at a predetermined point and walk, supervised, to their schools. This is an initiative that could be easily supported by a school community, would be cost free, and would improve the health of our students.
• There needs to be an emphasis on traffic safety for the entire school community. Students are taught the importance of traffic safety, but a culture of safety could be enhanced through the intentional inservicing of parents at school council meetings, meet the teacher nights, etc.
• Collaborative partnerships such as the traffic safety initiative created by CAPSC are critical, and need to be supported. Multidisciplinary partnerships such as this magnify the effectiveness of interventions designed to enhance student safety. It was a very powerful experience to sit in a gym last spring with committed parents, MLAs aldermen, CPS personnel, community leaders, school administrators and trustees as we listened to each other and worked together for creative ideas that would serve our students. No one group has all the answers, but collectively, I am certain that imaginative, innovative ideas that will enhance student safety can be found.