Students across Victoria are encouraged to ditch the car and take a stroll to school where possible, as part of Victoria’s Walk to School month.
At Lightning Reef Primary School, each student has been given a pair of shoes with a donation from Bendigo Bank Eaglehawk.
The students have decorated their shoes in a bid to make walking a more attractive and enjoyable option.
The school was also given a donation from the bank to host a healthy breakfast for its students on Monday.
Teacher Jess Ballard said the school had also started a ‘walking school bus’, with parents and teachers giving their time to chaperone students on their walk.
Miss Ballard said walking to school was important because obesity was a growing problem among children, and many spent more time on screens and fewer time being active outdoors than previous generations.
Exercise and a healthy breakfast also played a role in students’ academic life, she said, by helping them stay focused in the classroom.
VicHealth chief executive officer Jerril Richter said walking to and from school – or taking another active mode of transport, such as a bike or scooter – was an easy way to make exercise part of a child’s daily life.
VicHealth says only one in five children aged 5 to 17 get the recommended level of physical activity each day, and it is predicted that one in three children will be overweight or obese by 2025.
Parents in rural and regional areas are also less likely to be able to walk their children to school than those in metropolitan areas.