Our ambition is for every child who can to walk to school. WOW, our year-round walk to school challenge, is helping us get there. Sarah from our commercial team explains.

Sarah Ellis

WOW rewards pupils who walk, scoot, cycle or Park and Stride to school with collectable badges, designed by pupils in Living Streets’ annual badge design competition.

After just five weeks of taking part in WOW, an average 23% more children walk to school with a corresponding drop in car use. This is all but sustained one year on (22%), resulting in more children being physically active and reduced congestion outside the school date.

Walking to school also helps children get active and gives them time to socialise and learn vital road safety skills. Both pupils and teachers enjoy taking part and the scheme can be heavily pupil-led by nominating older pupils to become WOW monitors.

The all-inclusive nature of the initiative means that everyone can take part and schools are now able to fund the WOW resources using their recently doubled Sport Premium.

Parent and child

Why we need WOW

WOW is Living Streets’ flagship behaviour change programme with a proven record of increasing walk to school rates.  Schools like Percy Main Primary in Tyneside.

Percy Main had been participating in WOW for four years and 196 of their 214 pupils were walking to school. Due to a change in funding, the school chose to take a break from WOW. This resulted in the number of pupils walking to school dropping to just 124. Since restarting the scheme they have seen the number of pupils walking to school rise once more.

Making it stick

WOW aims to create long-term behaviour change. The children log their daily journeys on our interactive WOW Travel Tracker which allows schools to easily monitor and evaluate the impact WOW's having. 

WOW is just one of a package of measures needed to enable more children to walk to school. It works best when it’s combined with physical changes to the walking environment.

That’s why we work with local authorities and schools to implement road calming measures, including School Street Closures like these ones in Edinburgh and Camden.

We help reduce traffic around the school gates by helping set up Park and Stride schemes like this one in Bristol, and by campaigning for 20mph zones on all school streets.

“The children love signing in every morning and the system runs itself. The teachers have not actually had to do anything apart from load the homepage up every morning.”

Willocroft Community School

Children walking to school

Going beyond WOW

Programmes like WOW have shown we can make a big difference but we need the right Government policies and sustained investment if we are to reverse the decline in the walk to school.

This year for the first time the Government has set a target to increase the proportion of children walking to school. Now we are working with national and local government to make this change a reality.

We’re now working with the Department for Transport to have the WOW Travel Tracker named as a performance measure in the CWIS, specifically to identify the local impact and to make the case for more widespread investment into such behaviour change interventions.

Get involved


More about WOW