The Walking Challenge is On – and NewWestSchools is taking the first step
The Mayor and Acting Mayor of New Westminster and Burnaby are taking on the challenge.
So are school trustees Mary Lalji and Baljinder Narang of New Westminster and Burnaby Schools.
And so will many of the students, classes and schools in both cities.
All are committing to walk at least 30 minutes a day for five weeks in the WALK30 Burnaby/NewWest walking challenge starting April 9.
The event is open to everyone and was launched this week by the Cities of Burnaby and New Westminster Wednesday in Queen’s Park — with support of both Burnaby and New Westminster school districts.
Already, some 32 schools from both cities are involved. Registration is open now as the event gets underway next week through to May 12. Part of the fun is tracking progress online and seeing the minutes add up.
Making a difference: Walking rather than driving to school….
Trustee Mary Lalji said during the launch that she would commit to walking rather than driving her two children, age 6 and 9, to school every day for the next five weeks.
“I just haven’t told them yet,” she laughed.
Lalji, a former competitive swimmer and currently a runner, noted that walking can have a significant impact not only on health, but on traffic congestion at school – with the Walk30 Challenge helping everyone to rethink how we get around.
“This challenge is absolutely fantastic,” she said.
For New Westminster District Parent Advisory Council chair Karon Trenaman, participation in the walking challenge with her school-aged son Lucan brings a whole range of benefits – from an appreciation of nature, to seeing her son interact on the playground with his friends when she drops him off.
“It’s a great way just to have conversations with your child, and enjoy your community. Kids gain self-confidence and a sense of autonomy as they get a sense of their place in the neighbourhood.
“And from a safety perspective, taking your child to school a couple of times of week reduces school traffic.”
The WALK30 Burnaby/NewWest Challenge starts April 9 and
runs for five weeks, ending May 11.
Teachers, classes and schools can find out here how to participate,
how to register a class or staff team
and what level of commitment is involved.
A Walking Challenge – where every minute counts…
Burnaby Schools trustee Baljinder Narang noted that the participation of schools in both cities reflects the emphasis in BC’s new redesigned curriculum on student exploration of personal goals and healthy lifestyles.
Teachers and classes can sign up as teams, incorporating walking in outdoor school activities while making connections to other curricular activities such as art and math.
Walking helps students meet daily physical activity requirements, improves mental health by reducing stress and anxiety, connects students to their local natural environments, and helps build stronger social connections to the community.
And encouraging students to walk now can have lifetime repercussions, said Narang.
Medical Health Officer for Burnaby and New Westminster, Aamir Bharmal, explained that incorporating even 10 minutes of walking into everyday activities can make a difference.
Those minutes can add up – to better health and better communities.
New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote noted that walking is not only good for health – but is also a critical factor in creating more livable communities.
He applauded the New Westminster/Burnaby Walkers’ Caucus citizens’ group in advocating for walking in city planning and helping to make it a priority. That can be a challenge when the emphasis has been so consistently on traffic planning.
As for relations between the two neighboring cities, Mayor Cote and Burnaby acting Mayor Pietro Calendino joked that the Walk30 Challenge may just set a precedent for Burnaby and New Westminster to “begin cooperating – for a change!”
New Westminster Schools is one of several partners in the Walk30 Burnaby/New West challenge – a partnership that includes the City of Burnaby, Burnaby Schools, Fraser Health, ICBC,and the New Westminster Walkers’ Caucus, with funding in part from the Active Communities Grant from the Ministry of health.