Walking is a great way to keep active. As a nation, our lifestyles are getting less active, so building walking into our daily routine is really important. We’re getting less healthy as a nation too: obesity, heart attack, stroke incidences and premature death are all increasing and have been proven to be preventable through a small amount of physical activity such as walking.
In addition there have been links made to small amounts of physical activity and academic achievement. Active Living Research (2007) found that:
“Children who are physically active and fit are likely to have stronger academic performance”
Walking is the only truly sustainable way of getting around. We’re becoming a car-dominated society, and we are struggling with the daily problems of air pollution and congestion as well as starting to see the impact of 200 years of growing carbon emissions.
While getting cars off the road has obvious environmental benefits, it can also help with the fight against childhood obesity.
Central Bedfordshire’s Road Safety officers are able to provide schools with a range of educational resources to improve road safety education.
Many Lower schools in Central Bedfordshire already participate in ‘Stepping out Safely’, which is pedestrian skills training for lower school age pupils. In addition there are various Road Safety school resources for different age groups available from the DfT Road Safety Website.
Walking buses are a popular way for Lower School children to get to school. Whilst they do require commitment and dedication from adult volunteers to run them they have shown to be one of the most effective ways to get parents and pupils out of their cars and achieve a reduction in school gate traffic and car trips.
If you are interested in setting up a walking bus the first step is to read our Walking Bus Pack (PDF 212KB). This contains all the information you require as well as tips on how to promote the concept and get people interested.
As more and more children are driven to school the issue of parking outside the school gate is one of ever increasing concern. This is not only a problem for the schools and local residents as parents battle it out for a parking space but also for the police as they are called to deal with the problem. The issue then becomes one of road safety as the number of cars and often-erratic behaviour of parents endangers the children themselves.
Walk Once a Week (WoW) is a year-round walking promotion scheme. It encourages parents and children to walk to school throughout the school year. Children that walk at least once a week each month receive a badge. The badges are highly collectable and designed by the children themselves in a national competition open to all WoW schools
Children record how they travel to school, on a class wall chart or individual postcards. If they walk at least four times a month, they receive a badge, all of which are highly collectable. The badges run from September to July and are designed by the children themselves in a national competition where Living Streets sets a theme each year, such as ‘Nature in the UK’ or ‘My Walk to School’.
WoW is a proven way to increase walking levels, which helps to:
- reduce congestion at the school gates
- reach targets set on your School Travel Plan
- get children reaching vital physical activity levels
- increase concentration levels in the classroom
- involve children in their local area
- increase independence and road safety issues awareness
- improve relations with local communities due to decreased parking and traffic
Walk to school week is run annually with in May. It gives your school a chance to participate in a national effort to encourage walking to school and by doing this hopefully make parents and children alike realise that it is both enjoyable and achievable.
Throughout the weeks we provide schools with promotional materials and exciting competitions and many schools continue the theme with weekly days such as Walk on Wednesdays.
For more information about walk to school week contact Central Bedfordshire’s Sustainable Transport Team.