It was a stunning morning in the south Wales valleys, the perfect autmnal day with crisp leaves on the footpath to Ysgol Gynradd Deri Primary School.
Arry (from Ramblers Cymru who I share the office with!) had very kindly agreed to dress up as Strider (our Walk to School mascot) for the morning! Just after 8am we met up with Susan, the enthusiastic Road Safety Project Officer and her colleague Geraint from Caerphilly County Borough Council, Susan has organised weekly walks at this school and at over 20 others for several years.
We wandered down to the housing estate where the walk starts each week and Strider started getting lots of attention from the children as they assembled with parents and grandparents. At first the kids were a little wary of Strider, afterall it was the first time they had seen a big orange foot in their village, let alone one that talked! But once the walk was underway even the reception year groups were bustling around Strider to hold her hand.
The teachers, parents and grandparents on the walk seemed really happy to have Strider there and saw how excited the kids were to share the journey. They shared their memories of walking to school, how they used to walk to and from school each day and how far they often had to go even in really bad weather.
When we reached the playground Strider was getting high-fives from all the kids as they lined up to go in to school.
According to a Living Streets poll asking three generations about walking to school, more children today are missing out on the benefits of walking to school. But the pleasure and convenience of walking hasn’t changed. That's why we urgently need investment in walk to school projects to reverse the decline in the numbers of children walking.
Having Strider there that morning gave a big boost for the start of International Walk to School Month activities for Ysgol Gynradd Deri Primary School. We’ll certainly be back in Deri soon and Strider will be out and about at other schools for International Walk to School Month.