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Child and Youth Active Transportation Programs Renewed - Just in Time for Walk to School Month

October 4, 2016

Child and Youth Active Transportation Programs Renewed - Just in Time for Walk to School Month

UNAMA’KI (Cape Breton) - With Fall schedules in full force and our children and youth back in school, the Ecology Action Centre is pleased to share that its School Travel Planning program and other Active Transportation (AT) initiatives are back after being on hold for a year and a half due to funding cuts.  Thanks to funding from the NS Department of Health and Wellness and the Automotive Recyclers of Canada, our Youth and Municipal Active Transportation programs are up and running again.

“Nova Scotia is at a critical point given current health status of Nova Scotians and rates of chronic disease - getting people to be more physically active in their daily lives is essential,” shares Julian West, Making Tracks Coordinator.  “There is a great deal of momentum in our province to develop programs and policies that will enable people to be more active as part of their daily routines.  When people are able to walk or wheel to get where they need to go, they are much more likely to get minimum recommended daily physical activity; this is especially true for children and youth.” 

School Travel Planning (STP) is a successful, evidence-based program that facilitates the collaborative development and implementation of customized school plans that lead to significant increases in walking, biking and other forms of active travel.  With Nova Scotia’s STP considered a ‘best practice’ nationally, communities across Canada look to School Travel Planning programs to guide their municipal AT and Recreation Plans and school site development.

“Many schools are struggling with traffic volume, speeding near schools; parents are concerned with the safety of students," states Youth AT Coordinator, Stephanie Johnstone-Laurette.  "The School Travel Planning program works with each school community to deal with these concerns.  We collect and analyze data, address infrastructure issues (such as lack of sidewalks and unsafe crosswalks), and help schools create an AT plan to increase walking and wheeling.”

The work of the EAC’s Transportation team expands beyond the work of School Travel Planning, and includes programs such as: Making Tracks, a curriculum based program for learning to bike, skateboard, scooter, walk; Municipal AT, to help NS communities develop and implement their AT priorities; and, Welcoming Wheels, a new program to help newcomers to Halifax increase their independence and connectedness with regards to transportation.  Annually, these programs support dozens of community partners in the development of AT initiatives through programs, planning and policy, and look to address the needs of underserved populations to ensure equitable access to AT for all Nova Scotians.

“We’re thrilled, once again, to be able to work with all the stakeholders from municipal, provincial departments and organizations across Nova Scotia to advocate for and implement safe, active transportation options for all,” says Youth AT Coordinator, Natalia Diaz-Insense.  “October is International Walk to School Month, one of the most popular Walk to School events across NS.  Organizing this event and re-engaging our school communities in it has been our main priority over the last two weeks."

“I am glad funding has been restored for this program. We need Walk to School programs,” exclaims Toni White Goodridge, SAC Chair & parent at St. Margaret's Bay Elementary.  “I have hope we can affect change in the lives of our children in St Margaret's Bay, and make walking to school the 'normal' for many.  Without the Youth AT program and the leadership of the EAC on this initiative I doubt it would ever come to be."

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For more Information, contact us at:

Tel: (902) 442-0209
Fax: (902) 405-3716
Ecology Action Centre, 2705 Fern Lane, Halifax, NS B3K 4L3

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