INDEPENDENT NEWS

3,000 NZ children beat the world to school daily

Published: Wed 8 Oct 2003 11:12 AM
3,000 NZ children beat the world to school every day
To mark International Walk to School Day, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) announced this morning that the number of walking school buses in New Zealand has increased by 230% over the past year.
Heather Staley Chief Executive of EECA says there are now over 240 walking school buses taking some 3,000 children to and from school across the country.
"International Walk to School Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the number of children who walk to and from school, supervised by parent volunteers, every day of the school year".
"Walking school buses have been phenomenally successful, with the 230% increase over the past year a testament to it being an idea whose time has come. Sometime over the next year the one millionth 'walking trip' on a walking school bus will be made", Ms Staley said.
EECA is behind walking school buses as they greatly help in reducing the number of energy in-efficient short car trips. Transport fuels account for around 40% of New Zealand's energy consumption, and are the fastest growing energy consumer. Short car trips, such as those between home and school, consume one third of transport energy (fuel) and are the least efficient with cold start engines.
"Walking school buses are a win-win: parents save time, children have fun and get exercise, communities benefit from improved walkways, schools benefit from reduced congestion at the school gate, and the environment benefits from a reduction in energy use and carbon dioxide emissions".
"170 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions were averted over the past year by the reduction of unnecessary car trips. That is equivalent to taking 65 cars off the road in that year", Ms Staley said.
EECA works with organisations in the community, such as councils, to help schools set up walking school buses. EECA provides free kits, which include things such as sashes and whistles for the adult leaders, and bag-tags and stickers for the children, as well as information for the coordinators such as rosters and newsletter templates, and 'bus-stop' signs for the school.
While New Zealand children will be the first in the world to pound the footpaths on International walk to school day, some three million children worldwide will walk to school today to celebrate the many benefits of walking.
For more information on walking school buses visit www.eeca.govt.nz/streetwise.asp or call the walking school bus coordinator at your local council.
Ms Staley says EECA is implementing the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy through improving energy choices.

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