Physical activity is vital for our health. We are more likely to be active every day if our neighbourhoods are well designed and maintained, easy to walk and cycle around and safe streets are provided for little feet.
Physical activity is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle for both children and adults. It helps our kids stay healthy, gain confidence and learn the skills they need to stay active for life. Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. They can get this anywhere – at home and school, getting from place to place, playing in the weekends, and in the community.
There are plenty of ways to be active in daily life, like walking to the shops or biking or scooting to school. It is easier to do this in some neighbourhoods than others. Is your local neighbourhood ‘activity-friendly’, particularly for children? Is it safe and enjoyable to walk, cycle or scooter? Is it easy to walk or cycle to the shops, schools, buses or parks? If so, you are living in an activity-friendly community.
Activity-friendly communities have:
Put your neighbourhood to the test and rate the active transport and recreation facilities in your area using a checklist from The Parents Jury in Australia. Download the checklist here.
If there are things in your community that need improving, become a Parent Champion and get things changed.
Write to your mayor and local council
You are more likely to spend time outside being physically active if your neighbourhood is well designed and maintained. This is the job of local councils. Tell them about:
A good way to do this is to make a submission on your city’s Annual Plan.
Talk with other parents and community groups
Children learn a lot of behaviours from parents, so if you enjoy daily physical activity and active transport, your children will too. Walking around your neighbourhood is a great way to meet people and find favourite parks, shops and playgrounds. Check out:
If it has been a while since you were on a bike, adult cycle skills classes are available in several cities. There are also events to celebrate walking and cycling.
Join active transport advocacy organisations
If you walk or cycle from place to place, such as the shops or school, you are using ‘active transport’.
Active transport has many benefits in your everyday life:
Activity friendly communities help children move safely around their neighbourhoods and advocate for safer roads. Parents, you may be surprised to learn that children face a greater potential risk from vehicle accidents outside school than they do from stranger danger.
Injury to child pedestrians aged 0–14 years is a major cause of traffic related child deaths in New Zealand. Preschoolers are the most at risk, but child pedestrians of any age can be hurt or killed on the road, particularly at peak times in the hours before and after school.
So, safe roads around schools and teaching children about road safety is vitally important.
Check out these active transport and active community websites for more information and inspiration.