School children from across NSW will put their feet first and journey towards a healthier future by participating in the 22nd anniversary of National Walk Safely to School Day on Friday, May 14.
The annual event raises awareness of the health, road safety, transport and environmental benefits that regular walking can provide for your long-term well-being.
Apart from the physical benefits, regular walking also has a favourable impact on children's cognitive and academic performance.
The day also encourages primary school-aged children to build walking into their daily routine, by walking to and from school, not just on Friday, but every day.
Harold Scruby, Chairman and CEO of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, said that physical inactivity is a major risk factor for so many chronic diseases that can affect children at different stages of their life, including mental illness, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
"One in four children in Australia is overweight or obese, and it is expected that numbers will reach one in three by next year-primary school children across Australia - it's time to get walking ", he said.
"We need teachers, parents, carers and the community at large to get behind this event and its objectives, the best exercise for all of us is regular walking.
Children require at least 60 minutes of huff and puff physical activity every day - if you can't walk all the way to school, use public transport and get off the bus, train, tram or ferry a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way."
Former Sutherland Shire Olympians Steph Magiros and Peter Hadfield are lending their support as Ambassadors and will be getting out walking with kids to promote health and fitness.
Peter Hadfield said he was delighted to be an Ambassador for Walk Safely to School Day.
"Fitness and well-being have always been an integral part of my life, and it concerns me greatly that a quarter of Australian children are either overweight or obese.
"Regular exercise for school kids and their parents provides significant benefits and I would encourage families and schools participate in the Walk Safely to School Day and also encourage everyone to continue to exercise regularly".
National Walk Safely to School Day also encourages parents and carers to walk more, reducing dangerous traffic congestion around schools, better use of public transport with reduced car dependency.
Harold Scruby said, of course, everyone should obey the vitally important road safety message of holding the hand of an adult when crossing the road until children are ten.