An award-winning walk to school programme has launched in 13 schools across South Ayrshire this month to encourage families to get active on the school run.

Living Streets Scotland, the charity for everyday walking, is working in partnership with Ayrshire Roads Alliance to launch WOW – the year-round walk to school challenge. The 13 South Ayrshire schools will join over 230 schools across Scotland currently taking part in WOW.

Pupils log how they travel to school on the WOW Travel Tracker, with those who travel actively at least once a week for a month earning a WOW badge. The badges are designed by pupils in Living Streets’ annual badge design competition.

Pupils are joined by Strider for their walk to school

Schools which take part in WOW see walking rates increase on average by 23 per cent with a corresponding drop in car use.

To celebrate the launch, Living Streets’ mascot, Strider took a mini tour of South Ayrshire to visit some of the participating schools. Strider was joined by Rebecca Simpson from Living Streets Scotland to present special assemblies with pupils to talk about the benefits of walking more. The top three reasons pupils gave for why they think they should walk to school more were health and fitness, less pollution and safer roads.

Rebecca Simpson, Project Manager (Schools), Living Streets Scotland said:

I’m thrilled schools in South Ayrshire have joined us on our mission to get more children walking to school. WOW is simple to run and pupils love taking part - just a few minutes of a teacher’s day is all it takes to make a big difference."

 

Walking to school is an easy way for the whole family to fit more activity into their day. As well as helping children to move more and maintain a healthy weight, it has the added benefits of making school gates safer and cleaner by reducing the number of cars around them.

Rebecca Simpson, Living Streets Scotland

Following on from various projects in South Ayrshire to promote active travel, the Ayrshire Roads Alliance is pleased to further support our school communities in partnership with Living Streets and WOW to get more of our pupils travelling actively to school.

Councillor Ian Cochrane, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and the Environment praised the project, he said: 

“We’re committed to giving our young people the best possible start in life and promoting healthy lifestyles is part of our wider work. 

“Similar projects have seen the number of cars around schools drop off by almost a quarter, and we’ll be working closely with pupils to make sure they’re fully informed about the best ways to ensure they stay safe while walking to class. 

“This approach will increase physical activity, promote healthy lifestyles, while reducing pollution and congestion in an around our schools, and could leave a lasting legacy as habits change.” 

Pupils from Symington Primary School stood outside with Strider mascot
Pupils and Strider get moving in a special assembly

The launch comes in the same week that research found that 31% of parents across Scotland believe active routes to school are not safe (8 January 2018). 

Rebecca Simpson continues:

“From our work with schools across Scotland, we know that a lot of parents are put off walking because of the speed and volume of cars outside the school gates. There are practical solutions to these problems, including walk to school programmes. 

“Local authorities across Scotland should be engaging with successful walk to school programmes to ensure more families across Scotland can experience the benefits of walking more.”