Children need a lot of exercise. At least 60 minutes of exercise per day is the recommendation for children and young people by the Word Health Organisation (WHO). Overall, only 17.4% of Austrian pupils between the age of 11 and 17 get this much exercise. This was shown by the largest European health study among children and young people, the “Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children Study”. An active commute to school would counteract this trend. New data is now available.
Riding to school on a bicycle or a scooter is not only healthy and fun it also supports the receptiveness and ability to concentrate. But how are Austrian pupils actually getting to their place of learning? To get answers on this interesting question klimaaktiv mobil/BMLFUW (Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management) commissioned Herry Consult with an evaluation.
According to this research less than half of all pupils (across all school types) are getting to school on foot, on a scooter or a bicycle. Among the elementary school pupils the share of actively mobile children is the highest at 44%. Among pupils in senior classes (after compulsory education) it is only 9%.
The choice between the different modes of transport varies considerably depending on the type of institution: Kindergarten children are most often driven in a car (40% as the only child in the car, 15% together with others), elementary school pupils are most often walking (40%), pupils up to the compulsory education age are most often using the bus (43%). The same is true for more senior pupils (31%) but they are also using different types of public transport (total share of public transport at 66%).
The share of children and young people riding a bicycle to an Austrian educational institution is remarkably low: 4% are riding their bicycle to Kindergarten, 2% to their elementary school, as many as 9% of pupils up to the compulsory education age are cycling but only 2% of the more senior pupils. The evaluation illustrates the need for action in line with health provision. Currently several projects and initiatives by Cycle Competence members are addressing this topic.
Project “AktivE Jugend”: Can Smartphones Help Move Young People?
Smartphones for children and young people are generally associated with a lack of exercise rather than with promoting exercise. For the project “AktivE Jugend” (Research Programme Mobility of the Future) Cycle Competence member komobile, the Institute for Landscape Development at the boku and the Institute for Sports Sciences at the University of Vienna have joined forces. The aim is to develop a methodical toolbox to promote mobility via mobile technology.
Over the course of two years, the project team has recorded data on the mobility of pupils in Vienna, held workshops on digital competence, tested mobility games on smartphones and discussed the results with young people. Gamification was used as didactic means in mobility, movement pedagogics and media competence.
One of the project results is the recently published “Jugend Aktiv Mobil-Handbuch” (JAM handbook) providing a toolbox for schools with projects and initiatives focussing on new ways to promote active mobility. On 18 September, the project team was awarded the Vienna health prize 2017. The JAM handbook can also be used in other settings such as leisure pedagogics and city development or with other target groups such as children, adults or elderly people.
The JAM handbook can be downloaded as a pdf here.
Province of Vorarlberg: Initiative “Independently to School”
The province of Vorarlberg, supporting member of Cycle Competence, has started the initiative “Independently to School” to counteract a lack of exercise among children and the potential dangers presented by parents driving their children to school (“parent taxis”). A competition for ideas was initiated, in a school in Bregenz a temporary car-free zone was installed and to raise awareness for the topic “By parent taxi to school” the short film “You only want the best for your child” (40sec.) was made.
Additionally the province’s traffic department is demanding cycling mobility for children to be facilitated in Vorarlberg via an amendment to the current legal framework: Children below the age of ten should be allowed to ride on sidewalks accompanied by persons above the age of 16.
New Manual: Mobility Management for Children, Parents and Schools
A new manual with ideas for activities and examples of how to realise them was recently published by klimaaktiv mobil/BMLFUW. It is made by and for schools and kindergartens. The manual can be ordered here or downloaded here.
Photos: woombikes; pd-f.de/winora staiger