To encourage elementary students to walk to school, EnviroCentre and the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) have teamed up to create a new app, Hop!
Hop! is free and available to anyone for download through the OSTA website. Schools are particularly encouraged to use it in their active transportation initiatives.
What is Hop!?
A bilingual progressive web-app, Hop! helps make the walk to school more fun through interactive features. App users can track kilometres travelled, while engaging illustrations, group challenges, and milestones motivate them.
Additionally, by informing them how many greenhouse gas emissions they avert by walking rather than driving, Hop! allows children to see the positive impact that walking has on the environment. The app’s motivational features help children choose walking first, aiding in reducing cars on the road and improving safety in school zones.
Students can log trips to and from school, and even walks in their community – to ensure that any student can participate. Users can access Hop! on a regular internet browser, whether on a phone, tablet, or computer.
Why Hop! Matters
It is important, today more than ever, to support active transportation within Ottawa’s school communities. Not only is walking to school good for students’ health and academic performance, but studies show that when children engage in sustainable behaviours from a young age, they are more likely to continue this behaviour as adults. Walking to school also increases road safety in school zones and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the number of cars travelling to and from school zones daily.
Financial support from Green Communities Canada and the Government of Ontario made Hop! possible. The collaboration between OSTA and EnviroCentre, with support from the City of Ottawa, believes that active transportation is key to Ottawa’s future as a sustainable and liveable city.
“The advantages of walking to school have been well documented and benefit not only the mind and body but also the school community by reducing the number of cars in school zones. The new Hop! App utilizes technology in a fun, easy-to-use and interactive way by encouraging and supporting Student Active Transportation. By normalizing walking to school through technology, we can help promote a healthier lifestyle for our children and safer school zones for everyone.” Says Vicky Kyriaco, OSTA GM/CAO.
Jennifer Stelzer, Director of Community Sustainability Programs at EnviroCentre, states: “EnviroCentre is proud to be providing this innovative app to the school community to get children excited about their walk to school. Children who use active transportation often continue these habits into adulthood.”
Active Transportation Facts & Figures
- In 1969, 88.6% of students who lived within 1-mile of school in the United States walked or biked to school, which decreased to 35.2% in 2009, and continues to decline. The declining trend in walking and biking to school is similar in Canada. (The National Center for Safe Routes to School, 2011).
- The 2020 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth gave a score of D- for active transportation for travel to and from school. Only 21% of 5- to 19-year-olds in Canada typically use active modes of transportation.
- Promoting active transportation at schools makes a big difference in getting Ottawa children walking. The 2020 OSTA Transportation Survey Report showed 32% of children walked to school if their school participated in the School Active Transportation Program compared to the overall community rate of 22%. This app will add another tool for encouragement.
Download the Hop! app here: https://123hop.ca/