Walking is great for our physical health – making sure our bodies are strong and healthy. However, not all the healthy changes that occur when we walk are physical.
Our Project Coordinator, Catherine McCoy, has been working with a group of Mental Health Ambassadors at a school in South Gloucestershire and has seen how walking is helping their wellbeing.
Chipping Sodbury School is a secondary school in South Gloucestershire. The school and its staff are committed to supporting their pupils and have a group of Mental Health Ambassadors from each year group across the school.
Recognising the importance of walking, the school asked Living Streets to get involved with their Mental Health Awareness Week, earlier this year.
Working with the school, I delivered our walking challenge for secondary schools, encouraging pupils to increase and record how much walking they do. I gave assemblies to each House, discussing with pupils how they might easily adapt their daily routine to walk more – from walking to school, hopping off the bus a stop earlier, or walking with friends at lunch time.
After one week, the number of minutes students walked was up 25%.
I also worked with the Mental Health Ambassadors and we came up with a photography competition about the students’ walk to school as part of the activities for the week.
It gave students an added incentive to walk more as they took photos of everything they saw on their journeys – the perfect chance to show off some of those creative skills they’d been honing whilst getting active. There were some fantastic entries!
There was definitely a positive buzz around the school, with students who took part in the walking challenge and the photography competition saying it gave them some positive thinking time before school. I notice students are more alert and productive after being active on their way to school.
James (15), Michal (14), and Abigail (13) are three of the Mental Health Ambassadors at Chipping Sodbury School. Here’s what they had to say about walking and wellbeing.
"The best thing about being a Mental Health Ambassador is being able to help the school environment and be a positive healthy role model to others."
"My favourite thing about walking to school is the fresh air. The adrenaline from the walk also helps to wake me up so I am more alert. After we’ve walked to school we feel happier, as we have had time to gather our thoughts and speak with our friends."
What do you think are some of the easiest ways to look after your mental health and wellbeing?
"Walking is free and doesn’t have to be for long to gain benefits, having someone to talk to, having time away from social media."
Do you notice a difference to your wellbeing when you’re active compared to when you’re not?
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