Friday, September 1, 2023 – Active School Route signs are being installed on safe routes to schools as a community-based initiative to encourage students to walk or wheel to school.
As sidewalks and trails are extended in Sooke, the program looks to shift travel to and from local schools to provide a healthy way for families to start their day – and help manage vehicle congestion that occurs around school sites.
The campaign is beginning with École Poirier Elementary as the largest elementary school in Sooke after District of Sooke staff approached Poirier Principal, Tess Vally, and Parent Advisory Council President, Jen Temple, with the idea. For students who live within walking or cycling distance from school, or for parents or guardians who might be commuting to Victoria for work, making use of an Active School Meeting Spot offers a transportation alternative with many benefits:
- Active school travel helps school-aged children meet the recommendation to accumulate at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, which is associated with improved physical and mental health.
- Increasing physical activity specifically associated with the school journey increases alertness and attention during the school day. Physical activity supports healthy brain development, which can lead to improved learning and academic outcomes.
- Reducing the number of children being driven to school reduces greenhouse gas emissions and particulate air pollution around the school, improving air quality.
- Reducing traffic volumes creates safer school zones.
- Less congestion around schools can help save everyone time, especially during busy mornings.
Additionally, given the Church/Thoup Roundabout and Charters Corridor Projects, the active school routes may offer a creative solution to managing the anticipated construction-related vehicle traffic while work is completed.
A map showing walking and biking routes, along with meeting spot locations for families with students attending École Poirier Elementary is available here.
The District of Sooke will be working with École Poirier Elementary to receive feedback on the initiative with hopes of adapting and expanding the program to other schools in Sooke.
Mayor Maja Tait, District of Sooke –
“People are often creatures of habit and given. Sidewalks and trails were limited in Sooke, so driving became the norm and now that safe routes are available, many might not know they exist.
As the infrastructure improves, we’re looking to connect with residents and encourage alternative transportation where most feasible. This is a cost-effective, creative solution that has the potential to make a real impact for families in Sooke.”
Amanda Dowhy, Sooke School District Interim Board Chair –
“Walking or wheeling to school can help set students up for a lifetime of success. Increasing daily physical activity supports everything from improving cardiorespiratory fitness to lowering the risk of developing health conditions to improved concentration in the classroom. The research also supports that when students use active modes of transportation, it contributes to a strengthened sense of community and I think that’s something we can all benefit from.”
Jen Temple, Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) President –
“It’s the role of the Parent Advisory Committee to inform and support École Poirier parents/guardians to optimize the school experience for families, and the Active Routes to School Campaign is a chance for us to do just that. On behalf of the PAC, I’m grateful for the support from the District – providing us with supplies such as reflectors and umbrellas as a part of this program in an effort to help remove barriers to participating. Our Poirier Black Bears are an active bunch and their families have proven over these past few years to be so supportive, as such, I’m very much looking forward to being a part of this campaign and working together to support the health and well-being of local families.”
Christina Moog, District of Sooke – Communications
Tel: 250.642.1634, ext. 678