Karen Brownrigg, Percy Main Primary Eco Schools Coordinator explains why her school decided to fund WOW themselves.
I have to refer to the many personal experiences that have happened to us as a school since we first became involved in WOW. I say this because WOW has supported many hidden agendas for us that have unfolded as our involvement in the travel initiative progressed.
We are all too aware and know about the obesity/health problems facing our young children today. Children that are growing up in the hi-tech modern world that defeats, or would appear to defeat, the need to exercise as we all sit glued to our computer screens or iPads. We all want our children to be healthy. No one would disagree with the need to promote the healthy living aspect - but for children to develop character, confidence and skills I think that comes from deeper experiences. Experiences like walking to school.
Percy Main Primary is a vibrant school on the edge of North Shields.
Before September 2016, Percy Main had been running WOW for four years. At this point they had 196 pupils out of 214 walking to school.
After a change in funding in September 2016 which meant the school didn't run WOW for the six months at the end of last year, the number of children walking was down to just 124.
This prompted the school to decide to fund WOW for themselves.
They are already back up to 172 pupils walking to school out of 213 (April 2017).
As part of our involvement with WOW we carried out a survey with parents about their own personal walk to school experiences and many of the returned questionnaires stated how they would like to be walking through cleaner streets, gardens with flowers, trees with birds singing etc. When you link those responses to the health benefits and the emotional wellbeing of our children within our school communities and beyond, then I personally think, that raises the profile of WOW and highlights the benefits of funding it as a school.
I’m all for clearing the streets and giving back our children their childhood, which starts early in the morning as they walk to school and often ends at dusk as they play outside.
Percy Main Primary has now decided to use their PE and Sport Premium to fund WOW 2017/18. Karen says the PE and Sport Premium funding sets out to develop, through sporting opportunities, confidence and a sense of achievement in our young people. It also aims for individuals to rise to the many challenges that could face them while successfully nurturing their character and building on skills that will enable them to succeed.
If you think about our outdoor experiences that happen on a daily basis, as we share our lives with the people who live in our communities, I think that aspect and the benefits gained from WOW are missing from the opportunities being highlighted by the funding.
Walking to school does more than benefit our children’s health; it also improves the local environment and does a lot for our community.