Press Release



Parents are being urged on to get active to set an example and help turn around the poor health outcomes of the nation’s children by leading researcher, Dr Natasha Schranz, of the University of SA.

By taking part in National Walk Safely to School Day next Friday, 18 May, families will be making an important first step to creating active lifestyles.

Dr Schranz is the co-chair of Active Healthy Kids Australia which produces a biennial Report Card on children’s physical activity levels and has twice assigned a D- rating. Their next report is due later this year.

“The future health of our children really depends on it. Studies show that children with active parents tend to be active themselves and so it is important that parents share the role of getting the family out and about, then children respond accordingly,” Dr Schranz said.

“There’s also the added bonus for parents of increasing their own health and fitness while being active with their children.”

Figures show that 75 per cent of children who have at least one active parent will take part in sport and physical activity outside school hours.

A good opportunity for families to step out together comes next Friday, 18 May, with National Walk Safely to School Day.

The event encourages primary school children and their parents to walk to school with the aim of making it part of their daily routine.

Fewer than one in five Australian children is meeting the national recommendation of 60 minutes of huff and puff activity every day, despite an increase in the numbers playing sport.

“People tend to forget that a child may only be participating in sport one to three times a week with training and games, and some of this time may be spent not moving. And then there are some children who don’t engage in sport at all,” Dr Schranz said.

She said children needed daily activity to reduce the risk of health conditions such as obesity and Type II diabetes.

“The evidence tells us that children who get good amounts of daily exercise also achieve greater academic success and maintain higher attention levels during class,” she added.

“But also they’re happier and more engaged socially, they enjoy being active.

“We need a shift across the whole of society that values physical activity such that it’s not just about getting the kids up and moving but actually it’s an opportunity for the whole family to be active together, be a part of their community and reap the health benefits that go along with that.”

Dr Schranz is among a national group of experts, led by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, behind a new report, Active Travel: Pathways to a Healthy Future, which recommends “active travel” for school children as an urgent priority.

The report calls for government action to help communities, schools and parents support their children in active travel such as walking to school.

“It’s something that could, in many instances, be achieved. We just need to find a way to support families to prioritise doing this in an active way.” Dr Schranz said.

Harold Scruby, chairman and CEO of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, said: “Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for so many chronic diseases that can affect our kids at different stages of their life, including mental illness, cardiovascular disease and cancer. You have to invest in regular physical activity in order to get a dividend. It's never free.”

“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, because you can build it into your daily routine.”

The national initiative also promotes healthy eating, reduced car dependency, greater use of public transport, cleaner air and road safety. ENDS.


WHAT: National Walk Safely to School Day
WHEN: Friday 18 May 2018 WHERE: In all primary schools across Australia WHY: This national initiative aims to encourage children to lead a healthier, more active lifestyle by simply including a walk at the beginning, at lunch time and at the end of each day. The event also promotes reduced car-dependency, greater use of public transport, cleaner air, improved diets and road safety to primary school children throughout Australia. HOW: Encourage children to build regular walking in their daily routine by walking to, during, and from school RESEARCH: GRABS: IMAGES: MORE INFO:


Facebook: @nationalwalksafelytoschoolday Twitter & Instagram: @NatWalkToSchool Hashtag: #WSTSD


Contact Details

For more information, including images and interviews contact:
Caitlin Slater | 0403 326 652 |

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