Just yesterday, Canadian Parents posted an article about children walking home from camp and school. The article cites a recent blog post by a Toronto mother whose 12-year-old son was picked up by the police on his way home from camp. He was walking alone in broad daylight, in his own neighbourhood. Canadian Parents asked their readers, “Would you let your child walk home from school alone?” Here is Jennifer’s (one of our Health Promoters with the Halton Region Health Department) response:
I don’t know what the morning is like around your house, but if it’s anything like mine, with three children under the roof, you are running around getting everyone, including yourself, ready to head out for the day. “Ok everyone; you have exactly 10 minutes before you have to leave for school! What are you doing in your pyjamas still! Move it!” Sound familiar?
What saves time for me in the morning, is having the children walk to school. While other parents drive their children to school, I opt to wave good-bye in the driveway and head to work instead.
We are a blended family with children heading to two different schools in the area. The two boys walk together to and from school (they are 12 and 9 years old) and have been walking together for the last two years. They watch out for each other, and this stops us from worrying about their safety.
My daughter on the other hand, is alone and thus has a walking buddy. He is a Grade 7 student we hired to walk her to school. This arrangement has been so successful that I’ve been able to convince another parent to do the same and now he walks two children to school. What a win-win-win scenario! The children love the independence of walking, the Grade 7 student makes a few dollars and I have the piece of mind knowing she arrives to school safely. In addition, they all benefit from the fresh air, socialization and physical activity. I got the idea of a walking buddy from the Active and Safe Routes to School Program.
My daughter loves to walk to school. She is already asking to walk on her own. I’ll give her another year of mentoring from the Grade 7 student, so she can develop skills related to street safety, problem solving, and decision-making. In the meantime, it’s a quick kiss on the cheek, a wave of the hand and I am off with enough time to drive to my favourite coffee shop to grab a latte on the way to work! Win-win-win!
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To share your experience, or to get more information about letting your children walk to school, you can talk to one of us directly:
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Dial 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
About this guest blogger:
Jennifer Jenkins-Scott, RN has been a health professional for the past 26 years with four of those years in Halton Region. Currently her works finds her promoting physical activity and healthy weights to all age groups. When she is not at work she can be found on the slopes, golf course, or trails with her children, husband and the family dog, Izzy.
Jenkins-Scott, J. I let my kids walk to school. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from haltonparents.wordpress.com/