Like me, you’re probably tired of hearing ‘now more than ever’, but when it comes to reducing car journeys and getting more children walking to school there really hasn’t been a more important time to:
✅ Increase children’s physical activity so they can be healthier and happier.
✅ Create space around school gates to allow for families to practise physical distancing.
✅ Reduce air pollution to protect the lung health of our children and communities.
We know schools are faced with mounting lists of priorities and that encouraging children to choose healthier ways to travel to school might not make that list.
Our Walk to School Outreach team spoke to school staff to find out how - and why - they’re making WOW work for them during the pandemic and the benefits they're seeing.
There are multiple benefits on offer from having fewer cars around our school gates. It makes streets feel safer so more families feel comfortable choosing healthier ways to travel. It takes away the risk of speeding vehicles and dangerous parking. And it helps to reduce the air pollution that lingers around our schools, long after the vehicles have left.
It’s not always possible for families to walk the whole way, but many of our schools are benefitting from introducing Park and Stride schemes. These allow families to park a short distance away and walk the rest of their journey.
Mr Lucas from St Richard’s RC Primary School in Wigan said that “a number of parents have agreed to allow their children to walk instead of a short drive, whilst others have arranged to drop their children off 10 minutes away so they can walk from there.”
Whilst Megan Thomas from St John’s CofE Primary School in Salford said a high number of parents who do need to use a car have now opted to Park and Stride, which is helping to reduce traffic around the school gates.
Something we consider important is teaching children road safety and this is a skill that they will rehearse daily if they are walking to school. If good road skills have been instilled throughout their time at primary school walking with their parents, then they will have a clear understanding of how to remain safe when walking alone.
Reducing the number of cars around the school gates can have a positive impact on improving air quality. As well as being a teacher at R L Hughes Primary School in Wigan, Jennie Martin is also a parent there. She told us that she was motivated to sign up to WOW because as a parent and a local, she was "eager to reduce the traffic, pollution and congestion around the school.”
Whilst back at St Mary’s RC Primary School in Salford, Mark Chadwick told us how the school is “very passionate about Climate Change, Healthy Living, Sustainability and the mental wellbeing of our staff, children and families”. The school is “working hard at instilling the need for change with the children in the school and the WOW campaign has helped implement that.”