Active and Safe Routes to School

What is Active and Safe Routes to School?

The Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) program promotes the use of active transportation for children on their daily trip to and from school.

Active transportation can increase physical activity, reduce traffic congestion around schools, decrease vehicle emissions, and encourage independence in children.

In Waterloo Region, Public Health supports and works with many community partners to encourage and support students to use various forms of active transportation, such as walking or biking to school.

Why is the Active and Safe Routes to School Program important?

Active transportation can be an important source of physical activity for children and youth.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines state that children and youth should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.

A recent study suggests that the average Canadian child spends close to eight hours per day sitting while watching television, playing video games and using the computer. Although 58 per cent of Canadian parents walked to school when they were kids, only 28 per cent of their children walk to school today.

Active transportation can be easily added to everyday life and the benefits are significant.

Active transportation can:

  • Provide opportunities for children and youth to be physically active on a regular basis
  • Increase academic achievement
  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Reduce motor vehicle traffic and air pollution around school sites
  • Provide social opportunities

History of the Active and Safe Routes to School Committee in the Waterloo Region

In Waterloo Region, members of the ASRTS committee are representatives of the city, school boards, public health, municipal government, and community organizations in the region. The goal of the ASRTS committee is to work together to increase physical activity in children, reduce traffic congestion and vehicle emissions around school sites, and encourage independence in school children across Waterloo Region.

  • 2002 - The ASRTS workgroup was launched with a coordinator and initial steering committee as a result of Trillium funding through Green Communities.
  • 2004/05 - ASRTS steering committee joined the Together 4 Health coalition (part of the Ontario Heart Health Program, funded by the Ministry of Health Promotion. It evolved into the Active and Safe Routes to School Workgroup of Together 4 Health and received program funding each year from Together 4 Health
  • 2008 - Three schools, with funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, developed School Travel Plans - Saginaw Public School, W.T. Townshend Public School and Mary Johnson Public School
  • 2009 - When Together 4 Health came to an end, the ASRTS committee members made a decision to continue to focus on policy initiatives, and maintain ASRTS committee and program activities.
  • 2011 - An Active Transportation Charter was adopted by Waterloo Catholic District School Board and Waterloo Region District School Board
  • 2014-2015 - ASRTS Waterloo Region has received funding through the Waterloo Region Healthy Communities Partnership to hire a consultant to act as a part time School Travel Plan Facilitator and assist four to six schools in developing school travel plans.

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