Stepping up the numbers who walk to school
Thursday, 18 October 2012
Hampshire County Council is working with the national charity, Living Streets, to encourage more school pupils to walk part, or all of the way, to and from school.
Working with primary and secondary schools over three years
Based on the countrywide 'Walk to School' campaigns, two specialists from the charity will be working, over three years, with primary and secondary schools in Hampshire to encourage them to revisit and update their School Travel Plans, and to take up Living Streets' initiatives aimed at motivating more parents and pupils to walk to school. The package of measures they can offer include their successful 'WoW' (Walk Once A Week) campaign for primary schools, and 'Free your Feet' or 'Campaign in a Box' interventions for secondary schools. A number of schools will also benefit from intensive support to identify and tackle barriers to walking, as well as to promote walking to school and its benefits.
Schools with greatest potential to increase walking selected
On behalf of the County Council, the Living Streets officers will work with 122 primary schools and 26 secondary schools over the next three years. These schools have been selected because they have been identified as having the greatest potential to increase walking: these are schools where a high proportion of pupils are driven to school despite even though many of them live within walking distance.
The Hampshire Hands Up School Survey (2010) indicated that more than 60,000 cars in Hampshire either drive a longer route or travel during peak periods to take children to school, which increases congestion. Walking, scooting or even cycling to school can go a long way towards reducing the number of cars on the road, as well as achieving the Department of Health's recommended target of 60 minutes of exercise a day for children. More active ways of getting to school can also help to build confidence and contribute to the development of children's independence. An added bonus is that parents can save on increasing fuel costs.
Councillor Mel Kendal, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Environment and Transport, commented:
"In the UK, over half of primary school children do not walk to school regularly. Although this is unavoidable in some cases, being driven to school every day can mean that children miss out on learning valuable lessons about road safety and how to keep themselves safe.
"This project is part of the 'My Journey' campaign, to encourage people to consider their travel options for everyday journeys and to try alternative ways of travelling instead of in their car. Leaving the car at home can save people money, increase their level of physical activity and help to reduce congestion and carbon emissions, particularly on roads in the vicinity of our schools.
"It also complements the County Council's existing, long term road safety work with young people in primary and secondary schools such as: the Streets Ahead pedestrian training for children age six and seven years, Bikeability cycle training for young people and the recently launched StreetSense campaign focused on secondary school age pupils."
Living Streets' Chief Executive, Tony Armstrong, said:
"We help 1.9 million children a year walk to school by tackling the barriers to walking and we're delighted to be working with the County Council to help deliver the benefits in Hampshire. Parents tell us that the journey to school is less stressful, their petrol bill goes down, their children perform better at school and that they, and their children, feel healthier and fitter. Reducing gridlock on roads near the school gates not only improves road safety for pupils and local residents, but has benefits for everyone in the local community."
A partnership of eleven local authorities across the country made a successful bid for £4.8 million from the Department for Transport's Local Sustainable Transport Fund and it is this that will fund the three year project. The objectives of the Government's fund are to reduce congestion at peak times, and to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions