Children at 22 Torbay schools have signed up to take part in the Living Streets’ Walk once a Week (WoW) initiative after Torbay Council stole a march on neighbouring authorities to become the first in the South West to work with the charity.

Every child at participating schools is asked to walk in to school at least one day a week. If they manage it, at the end of each month they are awarded a Living Streets badge. The initiative will run for the next 11 months, with a different badge up for grabs every month. Using technical wizardry (and a mobile phone app) the youngsters can make the badge come to life, with each one revealing a different scene from nature around the globe.

On Friday, 12 February Torquay MP Kevin Foster joined youngsters at Shiphay Learning Academy, in Exe Hill, Torquay, who are among the first in the region to launch their WoW programme.

The school’s efforts have been bolstered by the support of staff at the Devon Dumpling pub in Shiphay Lane, Torquay, who have offered parents the use of their car park every morning. Under the Living Streets Park and Stride scheme parents who live too far from the school to walk all the way can drop their children off in the car park, which is around half a mile from the school gates, and join them as they make the final leg of their journey on foot.

We are intending to take this example to other schools in Torbay. It is a great initiative because it is good exercise for the children and I am delighted that quite a few of our schools have signed up to take part in this programme. Not only will WoW help keep our children healthier and happier but it should make life easier for other road-users because it will cut the number of car journeys.

Mark King, Torbay Council Executive Lead for Transport Mark King

Elaine Gill, headteacher at Shiphay, said:  “Because the children taking part in the WoW scheme record their journeys into school on the Living Streets Travel Tracker, it is always at the forefront of their minds. We have explained to them why they are doing it and they have really taken that on board.

“This is quite a built-up area so we are also conscious of keeping traffic and pollution to a minimum. So as well as teaching the children the habit of walking rather than being driven whenever possible, it also cuts the number of cars pulling up at the school gates in the morning.”

WoW currently encourages almost 400,000 children to get walking across Britain and schools taking part have seen the number of children walking to school increase by an average of 23 per cent.

 

 

Joe Irvin, Living Streets’ Chief Executive, Joe Irvin said: “This is a historic launch for Living Streets and Shiphay should be proud that they are one of the first schools in the South West to take up the WoW walk to school challenge.

“Hopefully other more schools in the South West will follow Shiphay’s lead. Of course, parents’ work commitments and large catchment areas can make walking to school impractical for some. But The mental and physical health benefits of regular walking are marked and well documented.

“Research has shown that children who walk regularly come to class more alert and able to concentrate. Walking in is sociable and both parents and children enjoy it.”

 

Kevin Foster MP said: “This  is a great idea because it ensures that even those who live too far away to walk the whole way to school get the benefits of doing so. Only a generation ago most of my generation walked to school, but there has been a change in lifestyles since then and we need to reverse that.

“Walking to school is a great way for children to fit more exercise into their daily routine and I am very pleased to support Shiphay in taking this step to increase the numbers doing so. The children I spoke to said they enjoyed spending time with their friends and parents whilst walking to school, plus the badges seemed to go down well."

For more information about Living Streets’ Walk once a Week scheme, please visit www.livingstreets.org.uk

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Notes to Editors:

We are Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking.

We want to create a walking nation, free from congested roads and pollution, reducing the risk of preventable illness and social isolation and making walking the natural choice. We believe that a walking nation means progress for everyone.

Our ambition is to get people of all generations to enjoy the benefits that this simple act brings and to ensure all our streets are fit for walking.

For more than 85 years we’ve been a beacon for walking. In our early days our campaigning led to the UK’s first zebra crossings and speed limits. Now our campaigns and local projects deliver real change to overcome barriers to walking and our groundbreaking initiatives such as the world’s biggest Walk to School campaign encourage millions of people to walk.