It’s no surprise that the benefits of walking to school are being pushed harder than ever by Living Streets, the UK charity that sells the benefits of two feet over four wheels. Childhood obesity is now a bigger issue than ever in the UK, so the chance to get a few more Chelsea tractors off the roads for a five-day spell could make all the difference for the future health of kids around the UK.
The fun and engaging week-long activity for primary schools has been built to make pupils experience first-hand the importance of walking to school. Children will be well on their way to reaching their recommended 60 minutes minimum of physical activity per day before even reaching the school gates! Not only will it set them up for a positive day in the classroom, but it will also help create healthy habits for life.
Every year for a five-day spell, Living Streets creates a themed challenge for schoolchildren and their significant others to take on while they’re doing the school walk. It’s become incredibly popular, too; in 2017 alone, 400,000 children and their families took part in the challenge.
There is agreement on the need to travel more sustainably, both for our health and to tackle the climate emergency. This is
reflected in the Government’s announcement of £2 billion for walking and cycling over the next five years and a string of policy announcements to support the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, millions of people rediscovered the simple act of walking – the oldest, cheapest and greenest transport there is. But the pandemic saw people struggling with narrow, uneven pavements, crossings that prioritise cars rather than people,and pavement parking.
The pandemic has highlighted inequalities. People from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups and low income groups – already at greater risk from traffic collisions and air pollution – have been disproportionately affected by the disease. The loneliness of older and disabled people has got worse.
The Government’s renewed commitment to walking and cycling during the pandemic is encouraging, through its £250 million Emergency Active Travel Fund, the launch of Gear Change and, its support for local authorities to deliver long-term change.
The upcoming Transport Decarbonisation Plan, Spending Review, Bus Strategy and the second Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy should set out a positive future for walking.
So there really is no excuse!
Walk to School Week 2021 is 17th -21st May.
For more information on how to get involved visit the Living Streets campaign website at: www.livingstreets.org.uk