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.
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.