Everyone needs physical activity for a healthy life. Public health experts said that walking to school can be a good way for physical activity for the schoolchildren and their guardians.
However, lack of proper walking environment discourages schoolchildren and their guardians to walking to school. Against this backdrop, students of a school in the capital from an awareness programme raised the demand of ensuring a safe walking route to their school.
The awareness programme on ‘Need for a safe environment to walk to school to prevent Covid-19 and non-communicable diseases’ was held in front of Rayerbazar High School in the capital on Monday (October 25). The event was arranged to draw the attention of the authorities concerned to create a conducive environment for walking and cycling.
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Alongside the schoolchildren, public health experts, rights activists and school teachers also joined the event and spoke on the occasion. Among them, Gaous Pearee, director of Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust, Ziaur Rahman, senior project officer of WBB Trust, Tahajjot Hossain, an teacher of Rayerbazar High School, and Md Kabirul Islam, another teacher of the school. Meherunnesa, headmistress of the school presided over the event.
The students demanded speed control of vehicles to ensure a safe environment for walking to school, no unnecessary honking of horns, adequate pavement construction and maintenance, zebra crossings at level road crossings, pedestrian crossing signs, public toilets, closure of illegal parking and seating arrangement for pedestrians.
The speakers of the event said that there are a large number of trips to school every day. If these trips take place on foot or by bicycle, it is possible to significantly reduce carbon emission and contribute to climate change. Positive changes in physical and mental health are possible through walking and cycling to school.
They also said that walking to school and cycling can easily fill the lack of physical activity. It also increases the chances of socializing with friends and learning about the surroundings, resulting in better mental health. So, there is no alternative to improving the environment for walking and cycling.
In her speech, Gaous Pearee said that walking at least 30 minutes a day is essential for good health. “If we develop the habit of walking short distances, it will prevent various non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke,” she added.
In her presidential speech, Meherunnesa said that children in Dhaka city don’t get the required physical activity due to lack of adequate playgrounds and parks. She called upon the government to take necessary steps to create a safe walking environment for the schoolchildren.
Ziaur Rahman said that the month of October is celebrated as ‘Active and Safe Route to School’ around the world to raise awareness among students about walking and cycling. He spoke for a safe walking environment in Dhaka city.
Tahajjot Hossain said that most of the students of Rayerbazar High School commute to school on foot. However, they have to face various problems and even accidents due to lack of a suitable environment for walking.