International experts, ranging from public health to urban design, are meeting in Dunedin this week for the Active Living and Environment Symposium at Otago University, to discuss the link between health, transport and the environment.

Healthy Families Waitakere Active Transport Systems Innovator, Rochelle Pethybridge, is looking forward to sharing ideas and insights from a West Auckland perspective at the three-day symposium.

“It’s an opportunity to get together with other organisations including local government and District Health Boards to share ideas about active transport around the places where we live, learn, work and play,” she says.

Finding ways to enhance active transport in West Auckland is a priority for Rochelle. Active transport includes all forms of transport which include physical activity, such as walking and cycling. Daily physical activity has many benefits, such as reducing the risk of conditions like cardiovascular disease, lowering stress levels, improved social wellbeing and building a greater sense of community.

Rochelle is currently working to improve active transport around the Lincoln North area in West Auckland. She has started the early stages of an initiative which will encourage more children to walk, cycle or scooter from their home to school.

“A number of countries like the United Kingdom and Australia have seen decreasing rates of children walking, cycling and scootering from their home to school with the common barriers being road safety and busy lifestyles for parents.”

“West Auckland is already experiencing this, especially for the suburbs near Lincoln Road. So the initiative is about finding small yet effective ways to get kids active again.”