The Walking Braindead

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News Flash.  Kids aren’t walking to school.

Nope.

Not happening.

In fact, the whole notion of walking to school has been eradicated!  

Here’s Mayor La-de-Dawe’s tweet on the matter:

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Instead of accepting this rather alarmist statement at face value I went in search of the source.   The 4th slide in the referenced presentation barely contains all the melodrama:

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Here’s some other things you likely didn’t know:Unstructured play is extinct!

Unstructured play is extinct!

Really, says who?

Playgrounds empty!

Which ones?

And of course, the piece de resistance:  Walk to school has been eradicated!

I particularly like the fact statistic being touted as to an exact number of steps a day that are believed to be lost.  In this Intelligencer piece we gain some further extrapolation as to the impact of these lost steps:

 About 2,000 steps a day gone, adding over the course of a year those steps could represent, on average, 100 calories a day for the 200 school days in a year. Adding up to an extra 4-5 lbs. per child.

“Could represent” ….”On average”

Let’s delve into this concrete math a little more, shall we.

An average person has a stride length of approximately 2.1 to 2.5 feet. That means that it takes over 2,000 steps to walk one mile;

So I guess from this then that the 2000 steps Mitchell is saying are lost based on a 1/2 mile (0.8km) route.

This is important because it actually contradicts the claim in this June 16th article in Today’s Fretfull Parent that states: Most children are now bussed or driven to school.

That’s a big “or” because the eligibility criteria for both York Region’s Catholic and Public school system is set in such a way that would exclude students of all grades that live  0.8km from a school.

We then read that according to a Report Card, only 24 percent of kids aged 11 to 15 walk to school and only two percent in this age group bike to school.

They’re measuring this in Toronto and Aurora is not Toronto so the question is where are Aurora’s numbers?

In Toronto, they are encouraging kids to walk to school , holding walkability summits and  organizing “walking school buses”.

Kids should be encouraged to walk to school, but forced, absolutely not.

And this is where we focus in on an Aurora case study that nullifies all substance behind Mitchell’s presentation, and mayor Dawe’s parroted tweet.

I’m not sure if similar meassures are in place at all YRSB schools but at Devins Dr. Public School Wednesdays every Wednesday this year has been a “Walk Wednesday” where the school has taken upon itself to deny cars entry to the school parking lot.

They use teaching staff in vests to divert all car traffic from their safe parking lot/drop-off circle.

You can imagine what all the side streets around the school look like when this is in effect.  This from a school that recently approached council with respect to traffic safety issues it is now amplifying.

This from the same school where the sidewalk was recently ripped up and taped off forcing walking kids onto the road shared with these cars.

This from the same school where kids are actualy safer in cars than walking on foot.

The best part of all of this is that this happens every Wednesday under the guiding thought that it will change behavior, yet every other day of the week the car traffic returns as though Walk Wednesday never happened.  It is an ill-conceived and futile program.

The added hypocrisy is that staff and teachers park their cars in the staff lot, while parents are denied.

Oh, and buses are also not turned away, so what’s the thought process there? That kids arriving by bus somehow are healthier than those driven by car even though neither of them have walked?

Walking to school has not been eradicated, it is disingenuous to claim such if one doesn’t actually bother to go on a walk-about and see for themselves.  If one exercised just a modicum of oh, I don’t know let’s call it physical literacy, they would witness playgrounds that aren’t empty and kids engaging in unstructured play.

I say this as the parent of two kids that walk to school every day, are always enaged in unstructured play and are clamouring to go to any one of the amazing parks around town to meet and play with their friends.

Anyone claiming that they there is a need to “Activate” Aurora without offering any evidence to support a notion that the town is somehow inactive, is braindead.

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