VICTORIA -- The B.C. government has selected 11 schools to participate in a pilot project that will encourage the use of active transportation to get to and from schools.

“Active transportation” includes biking, walking, skateboarding or other methods of physically getting from home to school. The province says that active transportation supports both physical and mental health.

“Health, wellness and an active lifestyle have so many benefits for students, including improved learning outcomes and longer attention spans,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education in a release Thursday.

“We welcome the pilot and encourage all students and their families throughout B.C. to make their school commute an active one,” she said.

The 11 schools involved in the program will receive $400,000 in funding over two years to improve active transportation resources and share information with families.

These resources can include undertaking studies to map out the best route to get to schools safely, purchasing loaner bikes, scooter and skateboards for students, improving infrastructure on school grounds – such as by installing bike racks and improving signage – or creating more skill-building opportunities for students and parents.

The results of the pilot program will also help the province develop future active transportation programs for schools across B.C.

“The health and well-being of our students is a top priority for us, and promoting active and safe travel to school is part of that,” said Margo Musslewhite, principal of Sangster Elementary in Colwood, Vancouver Island.

A list of the 11 schools participating in the pilot program can be found below:

• Bella Bella Community school (Heiltsuk Nation)

• J.N. Burnett Secondary (Richmond – SD 38)

• Sir William Van Horne Elementary (Vancouver – SD 39)

• Langdale Elementary (Gibsons – SD 46)

• Sir Alexander Mackenzie school (Hagensborg – SD 49)

• St. Patrick Regional school (Vancouver – CISVA)

• Sangster Elementary school (Colwood – SD 62)

• Cumberland Community school (Cumberland – SD 71)

• Sir James Douglas Elementary school (Victoria – SD 61)

• Muheim Memorial Elementary (Smithers – SD 54)

• Fort St James Secondary (Nechako Lakes – SD 91)