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St Mary’s Blackbrook Catholic Primary School in St Helens have been taking part in WOW – our walk to school challenge since September 2021.

Located near another primary school and on a very busy road, they were concerned about unmanageable traffic congestion, particularly during the morning drop off. They were also keen to encourage the children to lead healthy lives and stay active.

Bernadette Knapper, School Liaison Officer and WOW Champion, is responsible for running WOW and has led the school in taking a holistic approach to the scheme that engages with the children in many different ways. Bernadette is supported by a small group of staff that meet each half term. The older children work with the Midday Supervisors to enter the journeys to school daily using Travel Tracker. Their Head Girl and Boy along with their deputies’ sort and award the badges each month.

Thanks to the many staff being involved in promoting WOW, the children and parents are very enthusiastic and committed. During a recent assembly delivered by our Living Streets Project Manager, Jane, the children responded brilliantly and knew why walking to school is good for them. They expertly answered questions about carbon footprint and pollution as well as knowing the impact it can have on mental and physical health and readiness to learn.

The school’s holistic approach and dedication to WOW has certainly paid off as active travel rates have increased by 16% and car journeys all the way to school have decreased by 15%.


The school has used a multitude of ways to engage children and parents with WOW, including:

  • Participating in events throughout the year, including the WOW Walk of Fame challenge
  • Inviting Strider to a Walk/Wheel to School Week challenge assembly
  • A toy version of Living Streets mascot Strider is awarded to the class with the most active journeys
  • Engaging WOW displays in classrooms
  • Promoting WOW regularly via the school newsletter and Twitter
  • Keeping in touch with Living Streets coordinators
  • Sticking to a daily routine of logging journeys to school using the WOW Travel Tracker
  • Promoting a positive attitude about WOW throughout the school;
  • Badges are awarded in assemblies to make children feel special

There are 426 pupils currently taking part in WOW, 24,332 active journeys have been logged this school year, and 1,636 WOW badges have been awarded so far this year. To top it all off, the congestion around the school gates has improved.  


"The children and staff thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Walk/Wheel to school challenge this week, as ever the resources were fantastic."


"I’m so impressed with the way St Marys Blackbrook Catholic Primary School are taking a whole-school approach to WOW. It’s fantastic to see different members of staff, and pupils, working together to promote the benefits of walking to school and celebrating everyone’s efforts in assembly each month. This holistic approach ensures that WOW and walking to school is embedded across the school community and will help make walking the number one choice for pupils now and in the future!"


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