Join in with International Walk to School Month this October!12 October 2020
Make sure to let us know how you and your family get on this International Walk to School Month. You can tag us in your walk to school photos and videos @TravelineCymru on Twitter and Facebook.
What is International Walk to School Month?
Every October, Living Streets (the UK charity for everyday walking) asks children and their parents across the world to take part in International Walk to School month. Living Streets’ mission is to achieve a better walking environment and inspire people to walk more. Initiatives such as International Walk to School month are a great way to encourage people to experience the environmental, physical health, mental health and social benefits of walking to school, as well as shining a light on the wider policy changes that will make walking to school as safe as possible for children.
Why is it important?
Living Streets want to reverse the decline in children walking to school and have already convinced the government to have an objective to increase the proportion of 5-10 year olds walking to school to 55% by 2025. At the moment, only 44% of primary school pupils in Wales walk to school. These are some of the reasons why International Walk to School Month (and encouraging longer term behaviour change) is so important*:
- It’s been scientifically proven that children who do some form of exercise, especially a walk before school, do better in the classroom. This is because they arrive feeling ready, refreshed and energised for the day.
- Parents can see the positive impact of walking to school in their children’s improved moods and better behaviour.
- Walking can relieve stress and anxiety and 71% of people experience decreased levels of depression after going out for a walk.
- During peak morning traffic, 1/5 cars on the road are taking children school. This contributes to congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions.
- ½ million tonnes of CO2 per year are generated by the school run alone (this is higher than the annual CO2 produced by some small countries!). 2/5 parents of primary school children have said they worry about the high pollution levels around their child’s school.
- As a result of reduced congestion, there is increased footfall for local businesses. This benefits the whole community.
- Distance, time and safety concerns are the most significant barriers stopping children from walking to school. Initiatives such as International Walk to School Month are vital in encouraging national governments, local authorities and schools to work together and enable children to walk to school safely.
How can I get involved?
New statistics from the Department for Transport have revealed that there was a 39% increase in people walking more between May and July 2020. In a bid to maintain this behaviour change as a result of Covid-19 and to help transform the walk to school for all children, here are some of the ways you can support International School Month:
1. Ditch the car and walk (cycle or scoot) to school! Yes- it’s that simple. Walking to school has a whole host of benefits for children of primary and secondary school age. You can plan your most convenient walking route to school using our Journey Planner and read our top tips for making your journeys by foot safely (especially as it’s getting darker in the morning and evenings!) here.
2. The ‘Wow Travel Tracker’: WOW is a pupil-led initiative where children self-report how they get to school every day using the interactive WOW Travel Tracker. If they travel sustainably (by walking, cycling or scooting) once a week for a month, they get rewarded with a badge. Ask your school to sign up to the WOW initiative today!
3. Happy Shoesday: Your school can sign up to Living Street’s ‘Happy Shoesday’ fundraising event, raising money to create safer streets for all. Schools can run the event on any day throughout the month of October. On the day, children walk to school in their happy shoes and donate a suggested donation of £1 to Living Streets.
4. Download the Living Streets ‘Family Walk to School Kit’: Full of advice on how walking to school can work for your family and how to campaign for better walking routes in your area.
5. Join the ‘School Streets’ webinar: On 22nd October, Living Streets Cymru will be hosting a virtual event to showcase the benefits of making streets around schools car-free and to provide you with the skills and knowledge to introduce School Streets (a scheme that closes the roads surrounding schools to vehicles during peak drop off and pick up times) in your area. Speakers at the event will include Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner, and Dafydd Trystan, Chair of the Active Travel Board for Wales.
*All statistics are courtesy of Living Streets.