Press Release



May 13, 2019 -

This National Walk Safely to School Day we are urging parents, caregivers and teachers to take a more active role in ensuring that children are getting enough physical activity every day. 
This call is made following the release of a new national research survey, developed for kids by kids, that found 86 per cent of Australian children believe physical activity is important for their health and wellbeing. 
Despite knowing the benefits, only 12 per cent of child respondents reported accumulating the recommended 60 minutes of huff and puff physical activity every day, and just 4 per cent met the suggested guidelines of no more than two hours of daily recreational screen time use. 
The findings have been released today by Active Healthy Kids Australia (AHKA), at the University of South Australia and their Youth Advisory Council (YAC) comprising 10 children aged 9-17 years, who co-developed the Your Voice kids’ physical activity survey. 
More than 700 young people from across the country took part in the survey, which explored children and youth’s perceptions of the importance of physical activity and the barriers and enablers to them being more active. 
Dr Natasha Schranz, Co-Chair of AHKA, and Research and Translation Manager for the Heart Foundation, said the findings have highlighted that kids understand the importance of being active and they want to be more active, yet there are barriers preventing them from doing so more regularly. 
“Parents, caregivers, teachers – and society as a whole – have a vital role to play in ensuring our young people remain active on a daily basis,” she said. 
“It’s absolutely essential they lead the way in promoting healthy habits for our kids early on so these become part of their everyday lifestyle in years to come.” 
Dr Schranz said National Walk Safely to School Day on Friday 17 May, provided a great opportunity for families to put their best foot forward and start prioritising physical activity. 
The annual event encourages all primary school-aged children and their families to lead a healthier, more active lifestyle by walking and commuting safely to or from school. 
Dr Schranz said it was imperative we continued to acknowledge that our young people have an important role to play in getting Australia as a nation more active. 
“Our kids have spoken out on the importance of physical activity, and they want their voices to be heard,” she said. 
“The most recent AHKA Physical Activity Report Card showed a decline in Active Transport to and from school with the grade slipping from a C– to a D+. However, even with this failing grade we have not seen a societal shift that puts physical activity front and centre as a priority each day,” she said. 
Dr Schranz also referred to recent data released by Sport Australia from their AusPlay survey that showed walking as the most highly participated in activity by adults (18+ years). 
“However, it seems that this love of walking is not being encouraged during the morning and afternoon drop-offs and pick-ups, which is unfortunate given that walking to or from school is one of the easiest ways to get kids moving more each day,” she 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, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.” 
“Primary school aged children across Australia – it’s time to get walking! One in 4 children in Australia is overweight or obese, and it is expected that numbers will reach 1 in 3 by next year,” he said. 
“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. Children require at least 60 minutes huff and puff physical activity every day. We should encourage them to include walking at the beginning, during and end of each day.” 
National Walk Safely to School Day also encourages healthy eating, reduced car dependency, better use of public transport, cleaner air and road safety. ENDS.


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