Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

Central Bedfordshire schools cycle their way to Lapland

Monday, 29 November 2021

Our lower and primary schools are once again taking part in a Christmas challenge.

They've been counting up their walking, scooting and cycling trips to school to see if they can travel virtually to visit Santa in Lapland.

We organise the challenge, in partnership with sustainable transport charity Sustrans, which takes place between Monday 29 November and Friday 10 December and aims to decrease the number of cars used on the school run.

Almost 30 schools have already signed up to take part in this year’s challenge which also gives pupils the opportunity to learn about the towns and cities of the countries they visit along the way.

Using a class record sheet, pupils and their teachers will monitor active travel trips to school. All journeys will then be combined with the goal of achieving 2,000 miles, the equivalent distance from Central Bedfordshire to Lapland. Each participating school will receive a scooter for one of their lucky pupils taking part.

The challenge has been running for eight years now and every year there has been an increase in the number of schools signing up to the challenge. Last year, pupils in Central Bedfordshire collectively travelled 175,245 sustainable journeys to school during the two-week challenge.

Siobhan McSwiggan, Sustrans's Schools and Communities Officer, said:

The journey to school, even in winter, is a great opportunity to get moving, stay healthy and arrive at school energised and ready to learn.

The majority of pupils live less than a mile from their school; a twenty-minute walk or 7-minute cycle. For some village schools, journeys can be longer, but we’re also counting those who park and stride or park and scoot. This limits congestion at the school gate, making roads around the school safer and less polluted, whilst also providing a fun way to encourage everyone to travel to school in an active way.

Councillor Steven Dixon, our Executive Member for Sustainability, said:

This is the eighth time we’ve funded the Santa Challenge, which is a fun initiative that can bring serious benefits.

As well as the health impacts of encouraging families to get more exercise by walking, cycling or scooting to school, it can also benefit the whole community by helping to reduce congestion, and therefore improving air quality. Children are advised to have some exercise every day, and this challenge is a really fun and easy way to achieve this.