Pupils from Smethwick were joined today (10 January) by BMX world champion and Cycling and Walking Ambassador for the West Midlands, Shanaze Reade, to celebrate the strides they’ve made to get more active on the school run.

Shanaze Reade met pupils from St Philip’s Catholic Primary School to hear first-hand about how they’ve been helping to improve local air quality, road safety and congestion levels by getting active on the school run. 

Pupils at St Philip’s Catholic Primary School take part in WOW - the year-round walk to school challenge from Living Streets. Pupils who walk to school at least once a week for a month are rewarded with monthly, recyclable badges.  

Shanaze Reade and St Philip's pupils

At the start of the school year, 45 per cent of children at St Philip’s Catholic Primary School were driven all the way to the school gates. After just one term of WOW, that has dropped to 37 per cent, with families instead choosing healthier and more sustainable ways to get to school.

Shanaze joined Living Streets’ mascot Strider for a special Q&A assembly and a walk with pupils.  

As part of my work as a champion for cycling and walking, I’m committed to inspiring people of all age and abilities to move more. Walking to school is an easy way for families to fit more activity into their day whilst also helping to reduce the toxic air that surrounds many of our region’s schools. It’s brilliant to see the impact WOW is having for this school. I hope it inspires others to walk and cycle more in 2020.

Shanaze Reade, Cycling and Walking Ambassador for the West Midlands

Shanaze, who has won world titles for both BMX and track cycling, was appointed as the first-ever Cycling and Walking Ambassador for the West Midlands in March 2019[1].

It came after Living Streets called on the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, to appoint a senior walking and cycling champion to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to walk and cycle more.

Shanaze is working with Transport for West Midlands on schemes to encourage more active travel, including the development of safe cycle routes across the region and plans for a walking friendly zone at a development in Birmingham.[2]

Julia Crear, Regional Director (South), Living Streets said:

“For anyone starting the new year with resolutions to reduce their carbon footprint or to be a bit healthier – walking is a fantastic place to start.

“Swapping the school run for a school walk can be a simple and easy change to make but one which has huge benefits for families’ health, happiness and finances.

“These pupils worked really hard to collect all their WOW badges last term, so I’m thrilled their hard work has been rewarded with Shanaze’s visit. I’m sure meeting a world champion is going to renew their energy and enthusiasm ready for the new term!”

Anthony Wilkes, Deputy Headteacher, St Philip’s Catholic Primary School said:

"At St Philip's we are proud of the initiatives that we have introduced to encourage a healthy lifestyle for our children and families. WOW really appealed to us as not only does it educate our children on the importance of daily physical activity, but it also directly supports the local area by reducing our carbon footprint. 

“The children were thrilled to meet Shanaze and I am sure that they will be inspired to keep up their great work in the WOW challenge!"

[1] https://www.tfwm.org.uk/news/former-world-champion-shanaze-reade-becomes-west-midlands-cycling-and-walking-ambassador/

[2] https://www.wmca.org.uk/news/15-million-funding-for-more-than-30-miles-of-new-cycle-routes/