Children and young people alike deserve chances that promote the use of active transportation (AT). By involving kids in the procedure, the Ecology Action Centre(ECA) hopes to integrate AT into their daily lives. Their programs are tailored to the needs of various age groups. Youth empowerment is the foundation of the Youth Active Transportation Leadership, which involves including young people in various AT programs that help shape the mobility of their communities.
The ECA’s Youth AT Leadership program focuses on the youth and offers them various tools to identify active transportation infrastructure gaps in their community that directly affect their ability to use AT; to gain skill sets to build partnerships with community stakeholders and to co-develop a plan for AT Infrastructure/AT supports; and to work with partners to gather funding that will help implement their AT plan. They offer workshops, youth AT & Art, and youth-led AT Infrastructure Projects.
They have a number of programs that seek to encourage physical activity in younger children. One of these programs is the WOW: We Often Walk (or Wheel). This initiative motivates children and youth to walk through regular weekly walks. This is an easy way to promote walking and cycling regularly in the community. Children and teens can be encouraged to move by doing something as easy as designating one day a week as a walking or wheeling day. Filling up their WOW cards after each stroll will encourage kids to go on walks more frequently. Then, schools or clubs honor or thank their WOW participants with gifts.
Another program is the Walking School Bus. This program is a great way for students to travel to school where a group of students who regularly walk to school together, often led by adult volunteers. This fun and healthy activity provides adult supervision, group safety, physical activity, a fantastic social environment, and fun while getting ready for school! The students show up fired up and prepared for the day. A version with bikes is a cycling school bus.
Another program they initiated is the Youth Mobility Audit. A youth mobility audit gives young people the chance to document their neighborhood travel patterns and advocate for policies that promote active transportation. They gather information on all facets of AT infrastructure and supports (or lack thereof) based on areas selected by kids and offer illuminating details on what needs to be improved or praised. The young people use this information to create a strategy and a report, which they then present to the local decision-makers. Youth perspectives are crucial to rethinking how communities are planned because they provide fresh ideas to plans that need to be updated.
You can join and volunteer to their programs at https://ecologyaction.ca/our-work/transportation/child-youth-active-transportation
Photo by Norma Mortenson: https://www.pexels.com/photo/group-of-children-walking-on-the-street-8457621/