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Tuesday, May 10, 2022  | 9:00 a.m. | Windsor and Essex County 

Bike training sessions launched as part of local active school travel initiative.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), along with the Active School Travel (AST) Regional Committee, led an initiative encouraging more kids to walk, wheel, roll, and bike to school. With support provided through a grant from the Ontario Active School Travel (OAST) Fund, several activities and projects were undertaken in the last 12 months to create an environment where students could safely engage in physical activity while going to and from school.

The latest activity was launched today, Tuesday, May 10 at 9 a.m., which involved the first series of CAN-Bike pilot training sessions with grade 4 and 5 students at King Edward Public School. Prior to the training sessions, a media event was held to celebrate and recognize the many other AST activities that have been created with participating elementary schools across Windsor-Essex County as part of the OAST fund. In attendance was City of Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, County of Essex Warden Gary McNamara, and Director of Public Health Programs at the WECHU Eric Nadalin, who spoke about the City, County, and Health Unit’s commitment to active school travel.

The bike training sessions were led by Can-Bike certified educators from Bike Windsor Essex, who taught students about helmet fitting, basic bike maintenance, rules of the road, hand signals, and general cycling safety. “Learning to ride a bicycle is a vital life skill that teaches children valuable physical and mental skills and helps them develop confidence. Studies show that children who ride their bikes to school arrive more focused and ready to learn than their driven peers,” says Lori Newton, Executive Director of Bike Windsor Essex. 

The grant from the OAST Fund has helped unite key partners and parents across Windsor-Essex County to prioritize health and safety for students and the community through AST. The project has provided direct support to more than 2,700 students across six schools through various AST initiatives such as assessments of common school travel routes to determine their safety for walking and biking, purchasing and installing nine bike racks, and offering six CAN-Bike training sessions. The various initiatives in this project have reached a total of 35,000 students in 160 schools in the region through online resources raising awareness of the benefits of walking and wheeling to school, including increased physical activity, reduced traffic and congestion in school zones, less pollution, and better academic performance.

“We are very happy to have received the grant from the OAST Fund as it has allowed us to leverage the collective strengths of our partners to make active and safe travel to schools more accessible for our students in our region. We look forward to continue working with our partners to ensure that these AST programs are sustained and reach even more students,” says Nicole Dupuis, Chief Executive Officer at the WECHU.

An AST Charter has been developed by the Regional Committee and was recently endorsed by the City of Windsor and County of Essex. It includes a statement of principles that will guide community partners in supporting long-term sustainability of AST across neighbourhoods in our region. Once all of the grant-funded project activities conclude in June 2022, the AST Regional Committee will develop a sustainability plan to expand AST participation to other local schools.  

This project was made possible through financial support from Green Communities Canada and the Government of Ontario.

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