Sidewalk Smarts*

A pedestrian skills training program

Program Goal

To prepare children transitioning from primary to junior grades (Grades 3-4) to safely walk to school and other destinations in their community.

Program Objectives

After participating in this program, students will be able to:

  • Identify the benefits of walking
  • Identify safety risks associated with being a pedestrian
  • Build an understanding of various traffic structures in the community (signs, signals, locations)
  • Begin to apply a decision-making process to navigate various traffic structures as a pedestrian

Program Principles

1.    Anyone can be a pedestrian

Anyone who uses the sidewalk is a pedestrian. This includes those walking, using small wheeled devices (like scooters, roller blades, skateboards, tricycles) and using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. It does not include people on bicycles.

2.    Active transportation is a lifelong skill

Anyone who uses active transportation when they are young is more likely to use active transportation when they are adults.

3.    Active transportation promotes a physically active lifestyle

Active transportation can assist people in meeting daily physical activity recommendations.

4.    Integration of road safety into other initiatives is important to reinforce learning

Initiatives within schools like Healthy Schools, Daily Physical Activity, EcoSchools, and School Travel Planning, as well as other classroom learning experiences can support road safety knowledge acquisition and skill development.

5.    Road safety skill development occurs along a continuum

Learning pedestrian safety skills in middle childhood can provide a foundation for developing additional road safety skills related to being cyclists and motorists.

Program Components

The Pedestrian Safety Program for Grade 3 and 4 students is designed to include multiple learning strategies to engage students and reinforce learning.

A.   Introductory Classroom Learning

Classroom discussions guided by teachers to help set the tone and start to build a collective mindset about the value of walking and active transportation. Teachers are encouraged to discuss:

  • Who are pedestrians?
  • Why walk/use active transportation?
  • What are the benefits of walking/active transportation?
  • Where do people go using active transportation?

B.   Experiential Learning

Two sessions led by trained instructors

  • Part 1: Classroom hands-on learning activities (75 minutes)
  • Part 2: Outdoor learning at the road-side (75 minutes)

C.   Follow-on Classroom Learning

Cross-curricular and integrated learning with other subjects to reinforce what students have learned will help students gain a deeper understanding of some of the concepts taught in the program.

D.   Parent Engagement

Parent communication and instruction to reinforce learning at home and foster positive attitudes toward walking/active transportation and independent mobility.Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum Expectations

Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum Expectations

In order to build relevancy of this program for classroom teachers, efforts have been made to align program learning activities with learning expectations from the Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum (2019).

Healthy Living Strand – Personal Safety and Injury Prevention

D2: Making Healthy Choices

Grade 3 Learning Expectation D2.2:  Apply their understanding of good safety practices by developing safety guidelines for a variety of places and situations outside the classroom

Grade 4 Learning Expectation D2.2: Apply a decision-making process to assess risks and make safe decisions in a variety of situations



* This program was developed in collaboration with the following partners:

Canadian Cancer Society’s Walking School Bus Program
Cycling Into the Future
Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
Region of Waterloo Road Safety Education Program
Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region – School Travel Planning
Waterloo Regional Block Parent Program
Waterloo Region Children’s Safety Village