Join International Walk to School Month this October with Living Streets01 October 2021
This October, Living Streets are asking us to consider the impact traffic pollution has on climate change and the natural environment.
What is International Walk to School Month?
For the last 20 years, Living Streets have been campaigning to help more children safely walk to and from school. Not only is the school walk an opportunity for children to be physically active and develop their road safety skills, but it also helps tackle congestion, reduce air pollution and decrease traffic danger outside the school gates.
Despite this, rates of children walking to school have been in decline for decades:
- Now, 1/4 cars on our roads during the morning peak are on the school run.
- Over 2,000 schools and nurseries in England and Wales are within 150 metres of a road within illegal levels of air pollution.
International Walk to School Month is designed for children and their families to ditch the car and feel the benefits of making the school run by foot. Through a series of challenges both at school and with friends, Living Streets are hoping to encourage longer term behaviour change that will have an impact on the physical and mental health of children, as well as the environment.
What are the benefits of walking to and from school?
The benefits of walking to and from school each day are wide reaching [i]:
- There is good evidence to show that the walk to and from school has a positive impact on children’s physical activity, health and fitness.
- Walking has been shown to reduce the likelihood of developing conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart and lung problems.
- Supporting children to be more physically active from a young age increases the likelihood they will continue to be physically active as adults.
- Children’s mental wellbeing can be supported by regularly walking to school, as well as helping parents feel less stressed by not having to drive to school.
- Walking to school can improve children’s concentration and behaviour, supporting schools to achieve the best learning outcomes.
- When walking with parents and carers, it provides children with the opportunity to learn road safety skills in an interactive and safe environment. This will also help them feel less intimidated to travel independently when they’re older.
- Children who regularly walk to school also feel more connected to their communities.
- Walking to school helps reduce congestion and road danger around the school gates and surrounding area.
- Encouraging children to walk to school helps improve air quality both immediately outside the school gates and in the wider area.
- Reducing the number of cars on the school run can help make the streets safer, less polluted and more enjoyable.
How can I get involved?
1. Ditch the car and walk to and from school for as many journeys you’re able to during October and beyond!
Living Streets understand that, for many families, walking to school isn’t always the easy option it should be. Here are some tips from parents and carers across the UK to help keep the school walk simple and stress free:
- Start with small steps: If time is feeling tight, commit to walking one day a week or walking part of the way. You can then increase this week on week depending on what works for you and your family’s routine.
- One-way walks: Even if the walk to school isn’t doable, there’s always the walk back home. Many of us find the mornings chaotic as we rush to get the children up, fed, changed and out the door on time. So why not try to do the walk back home instead where you may have a bit more flexibility with your time?
- Take turns with other families: Take turns with friends to share the walk to or from school. Splitting this responsibility and having to do it less often may help it feel more manageable. It’s also great fun for the kids to walk with their friends!
For more tips and advice, take a look at the Living Streets ‘Family Walk to School Kit’. You can also plan your most convenient walking journeys to and from school using the Traveline Cymru Walking Planner.
2. Take part in the Living Streets #WalkForTheWorld Social Media Challenge
Living Streets have launched a great new #WalkForTheWorld challenge for children and their families can get involved with to mark International Walk to School Month.
- Choose an animal or natural habitat endangered due to climate change and walk, wheel, scoot, cycle or Park & Stride to school this October to protect it.
- Share with Living Streets on Twitter or Instagram (using the hashtag #WalkForTheWorld) which animal/habitat you have chosen to protect and why. They’d love to see your pictures, videos, drawings or costumes so get creative!
- This social media prize draw is open to UK schools and families who have a social media account. One post equals one entry, so you’re encouraged to post as much as you can, even every day of the month picking a different animal to increase your chances of winning!
- There are 6 prizes in total: three £100 vouchersfor School Accounts to buy the Living Streets Walk to School resources for your school and three £100 vouchers from a sustainable children clothing brand for social posts shared from Parent/Carer accounts.
For more information and full Terms and Conditions, please visit the Living Streets website.
3. Ask your school to join the ‘WOW’ Walk to School Challenge
Launched earlier this year, the Living Streets ‘WOW’ challenge 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 (walk, cycle or scoot) once a week for a month, they get rewarded with a badge.
So far, 1,200 schools are taking part, with walking rates increasing by 23% and car journeys reduced by 30%.
You can ask your school to sign up to WOW here.
[i] Stats and facts from the Living Streets ‘School Run Report’.