New term, new school journey
Our friends at Living Streets tell us why walking to school is so important for children, their families and the communities they live in...
As the children start a new term, many parents and drivers are thinking about the dreaded school run. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
At Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, we want to get more children walking to school for a range of reasons: to promote healthier habits, to protect the environment, to reduce traffic problems around school gates and to increase self-confidence and social skills.
Currently, one in three children leaves primary school obese or overweight. Whilst diet is one aspect of this, so too are the declining levels of physical activity. Only one fifth of 5–15 year olds are achieving the recommended 60 minutes of activity per day. Inactivity is making people unhealthy and unhappy and costs the health service up to £10 billion a year.
We know that walking to school is a free, accessible and easy way to start getting children more active. In the government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy, they’ve committed to a ‘clear target to increase the number of children walking to school’.
The walk to school offers a range of benefits for everyone. Physically active children arrive at school more alert, ready to learn and achieve better grades than those who are driven. Parents who walk to school with their children value the social time it provides, free from the distractions of everyday life. Plus, 23% of peak-time traffic is made up from the school run, so the more children walking, the less congestion and pollution there is on roads, making school gates a safer place.
Despite these many benefits, 2012 saw more children being driven to school than walking. We need to encourage children to introduce walking into their everyday lives so that they develop healthy habits for life.
Give walking a go this September. Work and distance from your child’s school might mean walking the whole way isn’t possible, but Park and Stride is the answer. Parking further away and walking the last few minutes means less cars and pollution, children will get that extra bit of vital exercise and chances are you’ll be back at your car in the same time it would have taken you to crawl through traffic to the school’s gates.
Visit www.livingstreets.org.uk/walktoschool to find out more.
All images published with kind permission from Living Streets.
2: Health and Social Care Information Centre. (2013). Health Survey for England – 2012
3: Public Health England. (2016). Patterns and trends in childhood obesity: A presentation of the latest data on child obesity