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Regional VIC schools join forces to promote active transport

St Mary’s, Colac West and Elliminyt primary schools have joined forces in launching a new initiative to increase physical activity and reduce traffic congestion around schools.

Partnering with Bicycle Network, Colac Otway Shire and Colac Area Health, the pilot program will identify safe and popular walking and bike riding routes, as well as designated “drop and walk” points that encourage children to walk or ride part of the way to school.

Colac Otway Shire Arts and Leisure Project Officer Amanda Shepherd said the council will launch the Active Map initiative on Friday, with workshops involving students who will help plan the walking routes within their neighbourhoods.

“The idea is to map the walking routes that children already feel comfortable taking and encourage more children to do the same,” Ms Shepherd said.

“The drop-off points will provide students who live greater distances away from schools with an opportunity to get into the healthy habit of walking and enjoying more quality social time with classmates on the way to school, while increasing safety for students by walking together as a group.”

Bicycle Network active transport coordinator Serman Uluca will visit the schools this Friday to help identify preferred walking, riding and drop-off areas.

"I am looking forward to working with a group of students from each school to gain an understanding of travel patterns within the school communities. They will help us recognise existing routes, point out areas with poor infrastructure and identify potential drop-off points.

"The proposed drop-off point will be within one kilometre of the schools, which should help reduce congestion during peak pick-up and drop-off times, and promote healthy and sustainable habits amongst the students," said Mr Uluca.

Active Maps will be launched as part of the Shire’s Walk to School Campaign in October, and Colac Area Health will promote the initiative through its Colac Otway Choose Change Campaign.

Colac Otway Choose Change is a community-driven approach that involves the whole community and considers all the factors that influence our food and physical activity choices.

The aim is to create an environment that makes the healthy choice the easy choice when it comes to food and physical activity.

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