Packaging the Travel Choices : SCHOOLS
TravelSmart School Programs
The main aims of TravelSmart Schools programs are to:
- Raise children's awareness about the impacts of high car usage on our environment and community
- Increase road safety and reduce traffic congestion around schools by reducing the number of car tips to school
- Involve children in making independent travel choices by acknowledging the influences of 'the car culture'
The School Community
Schools are a place of learning for their students and are a community in their own right. When you consider not only the children but also the teachers, parents, the school council, neighbours of people with children at the school etc, it is easy to see how schools can serve as important link to workplace, household and local community issues regarding transport.
Without losing sight of that broad community view of the school, it is fair to say that the children at the school are the primary target for TravelSmart Schools messages. Children are an extremely influential segment of our society. Their attitudes are at the critical formative stage and by providing information about transport choices in conjunction with opportunities to examine 'car culture' there is the potential to maximise the impact of the TravelSmart messages. Encouraging children to learn about and experience alternative travel modes in a safe and experiential environment can assist in critically examining existing values and perceptions that exist about the importance of the car in our daily lives.
The advantages of introducing TravelSmart through school curriculum activities, safety, travel to school programs and special awareness raising events are that children will be taking the message to the wider community and question the travel choices made by others. Visible involvement in initiatives designed to address road safety and environmental issues can also contribute positively to the schools' image. The types of activities involved in TravelSmart schools are also closely aligned with health programs promoting physical activity. These links present other opportunities for raising the profile of a school.
While there are excellent opportunities to build effective TravelSmart Schools programs, there are also plenty of challenges. To a large extent, the challenges are not unique to schools but issues of teacher's time availability, the ease with which activities are linked to the curriculum, implications for the school's duty of care to its students etc. need careful consideration or they can signal the end to a great TravelSmart school initiative. This section of the resource guide provides tips for TravelSmart officers to help them avoid some of these pitfalls.
In this Training Guide, TravelSmart School programs have been divided into four categories:
- Road Safety oriented (Safe Routes To School),
- Curriculum-based (built on classroom teaching),
- Focused on travel to and from School (Walking School Bus) and
- Built on Events and Activities (e.g., Ride/Walk to School, Magical Mystery Tours)
Each of these programs has its own unique considerations. Taking time to research and investig ate what is being done throughout Australia is important when developing strategies to market each program. It may mean the difference between schools perceiving TravelSmart as a solution to creative transport education or yet another demand on their time.