National Scoot to School Week, held from March 4 to 8 this year, is an annual Irish event that encourages schoolchildren to walk, cycle, or scoot to school. The event promotes healthy living, environmental awareness, and the benefits of physical exercise, while also instilling a sense of independence in the children. Lack of activity and air pollution are among the most urgent health issues in Ireland currently, and this week aims to address these.
History of National Scoot to School Week
National Scoot to School Week was initiated by Green Schools Ireland in 2015 to encourage primary school students to walk, bike, scoot, or use public transport to and from school. Primary schools across Ireland participate in this annual event to promote the benefits of physical exercise to help curb childhood health problems and address environmental issues. According to a study carried out in 2018, only 13% of school children in Northern Ireland spent at least an hour a day doing physical activities. This may have been caused by several factors including their choice of play, sedentary behavior, poor diets, and an over-reliance on private transport. Meanwhile, data from a 2015 World Health Organization study shows that Ireland is at risk of becoming the most obese country in Europe. Up to one out of four children in Ireland are classified as overweight, with 6% qualifying as obese. Also, seven out of 10 Irish children are thought to not get enough exercise.
Further research by the Mary Immaculate College in Limerick found that the number of Irish children walking to school has dropped dramatically in the last few decades. Only up to 18% of Irish children regularly walk or bike to school today, in comparison with older generations. However, the problems behind these issues are clear. Children today walk less because parents usually drive them to school, binding them to that comfort. Their preferred modes of play are usually digital means such as video games, which require them to be sedentary. Social factors such as rising street crime do not help the situation either.
Despite this, the responsibility to look after children’s health falls on the parents and the children themselves. If they are taught the importance of physical exercise their minds could change. Therefore, campaigns such as National Scoot to School Week aim to raise awareness of these problems and encourage people to tackle them together.
National Scoot to School Week timeline
The National Physical Education College in Limerick opens as an institution to train Irish physical education teachers.
The Green Schools Ireland initiative is introduced.
A new motor tax charges Irish vehicle owners for the number of carbon emissions their vehicle emits.
Green Schools Ireland holds the first National Scoot to School Week.
The Climate Action Plan is signed, pledging Ireland’s promise to reduce carbon emissions by 51% by 2030 and net zero by 2050.
National Scoot to School Week FAQs
Is air pollution a problem in Ireland?
The World Health Organization has described air pollution as the single biggest environmental risk in Ireland. Premature deaths in the country attributed to air pollution are estimated at 1,300 people. To reduce air pollution, the Irish government has set targets to curb road and industrial emissions. According to the 2021 Climate Action Plan, Ireland plans to reduce their carbon emissions by 51% by 2030.
What are the national activity guidelines for children’s physical activity in Ireland?
The Irish Department of Health has issued a set of guidelines to help Irish citizens maintain their physical well-being. For children over two years old and young people under 18, it is recommended for them to be active (at a moderate to vigorous level) for at least an hour a day. For adults aged 18 to 64, they recommend at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity five days a week.
Do you have to do P.E. in Irish schools?
Second-level schools across Ireland are required by law to provide students with physical education (P.E.) classes. The Department of Education recommends that schools provide at least two hours of P.E. a week. Campaigns such as National Scoot to School Week help provide students with additional exercise in their week.
National Scoot to School Week Activities
Walk, bike, or scoot to school
The best way to celebrate this event is to ditch the cars and use your legs. For the abled, take your bike, scooter, or even walk to your school in the spirit of the event. Doing so will help boost your physical health and can help create a sense of independence.
Use public transport
If you do not have a bike or scooter or live too far to walk, you can use public transport to get to class! One of the goals of National Scoot to School Week is to lessen the environmental damage caused by constant car use. Using public transport will not only help the environment but can also increase your navigational skills, allowing you to know your surroundings better.
Raise awareness and spread the word
Spread the word on your social media pages regarding National Scoot to School Week. The more people who are interested in partaking in the event, the better!
5 Health Benefits Of Exercise For Children
Increased physical activity can help improve a child’s attention span and memory.
Exercise can reduce the risks of depression and other stress-induced mental-health issues.
Regular exercise at a young age can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases in the future.
Frequent physical activity helps build a child’s stamina and physical strength.
Exercise can improve a child’s blood pressure and fitness while regulating and reducing body fat in the process.
Why We Love National Scoot to School Week
It encourages healthier thinking for kids
National Scoot to School Week encourages children to become more aware of their health and the environment. It teaches them valuable lessons that can help them live healthier, smarter lives in the future.
It helps tackle air pollution
The more people who participate in this event, the greater the impact. If the amount of cars on the road decreases, then so too will the amount of air pollution. This will be very beneficial for the environment and can help maintain Ireland’s quality of life for years to come.
It is an inclusive event
National Scoot to School Week is an inclusive event that encourages everyone to play their part in keeping their health and the environment in check. Even disabled students can participate by using public transportation or even carpooling. While the focus is on physical exercise, the main environmental goal is to lessen the number of cars on the road. Carpooling is a great way to do this.
National Scoot to School Week dates