SAMS school was one of eleven selected schools (Caitlin Thompson photo)

SAMS school was one of eleven selected schools (Caitlin Thompson photo)

Two central coast schools to participate in the Active School Travel Pilot Program

SAMS and Bella Bella Community schools will both receive funding under the program

Sir Alexander Mackenzie School in Hagensborg and Bella Bella Community School are two of 11 schools selected in the province to participate in the Active School Travel Pilot Program.

“This is an exciting program that will help students be physically active at the start and finish of their school day,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Our government is proud to work collaboratively with communities to break down barriers and support more students and their families to walk, wheel, cycle or skateboard to school and back safely.”

Active commuting allows students to spend more time outside, improving their mental and physical health, while staying connected with their community. It also lessens traffic congestion around schools, which further supports student safety and reduces the carbon footprint.

“Health, wellness and an active lifestyle have so many benefits for students including improved learning outcomes and longer attention spans,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “We welcome the pilot and encourage all students and their families throughout B.C. to make their school commute an active one.”

The Active School Travel Pilot Program will provide $400,000 over two years to the BC Healthy Communities Society to deliver the program.

The program will provide funding, information and resources to participating schools to support activities, such as: regular events and incentives to increase regular walking and biking to school; assessments, e.g., mapping the best route to school; skill-building opportunities for students and parents; expansion of the School Streets project to reduce traffic volume around schools; incentive programs; loaner bikes, scooters and skateboards for students; and amenities and infrastructure improvements, including bike racks and improved signage.

The Active School Travel Pilot Program supports goals set out in the Province’s CleanBC plan, as well as Move. Commute. Connect. – B.C.’s strategy for cleaner, more active transportation. The outcomes of this pilot project will inform future initiatives to increase walking and cycling to school for students and their families.

“Given the current restrictions and closures, finding opportunities for school-age children to be active has never been more challenging,” said Jodi Mucha, executive director, BC Healthy Communities Society. “We’re elated that we were able to work together with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to launch the Active School Travel Pilot Program during the 2020-21 school year. Building physical activity into the journey to and from school offers students and their families a chance to be physically active in a way that ensures safe physical distancing.”

BC Healthy Communities Society is a provincewide not-for-profit group that facilitates the ongoing development of healthy, thriving and resilient communities.

“The health and well-being of our students is a top priority for us, and promoting active and safe travel to school is part of that,” said Margo Musslewhite, principal, Sangster Elementary in Colwood. “To achieve long-term success for this type of project, we know it will take a team effort. We’re delighted for the opportunity to work with many of our community partners and BC Healthy Communities Society to build on our efforts to engage young people to enjoy the benefits of active, safe travel to Sangster Elementary.”