Children across Cornwall are being encouraged to abandon car travel, and take part in Walk to School Week from 1-5 October 2012. Walking gives an opportunity to gain independence, to learn road safety skills and to exercise almost painlessly. Of course, some pupils live too far away from their primary or secondary schools, which makes bus travel integral to their safe arrival on time, but for many, walking is a habit they’ve just got out of, especially with the wet weather. The campaign is kick-started by primary school children in Stratton this year.
Launching the week on Monday (1 October), the Council’s walking mascot ‘Billy the Boots’ will be greeting the children at Stratton Primary School from 8.30am, giving out stickers to children who have walked to school and encouraging them to keep walking for the rest of the week. Billy the Boots will also be escorting children on a walk to the local leisure centre, showing them how easy the walk is and the potential for parents to use this as a route to school.
Cornwall Council’s Sustainable Transport Group are also assisting Stratton Primary School to set up a variety of initiatives to improve sustainable travel to school, which include Walking buses, Park & Stride locations and support from local businesses to incentivise the children.
Becky Rowland, Sustainable Travel Co-ordinator, Stratton Primary School says “Walking to school is a very healthy and sociable way of arriving at school, and it is free! It is estimated that walking to school instead of driving saves an average of £400 a year!
“I aim to keep the momentum going from our Walk to School Week success and keep down our carbon footprint, as well as making our children healthier and our car park less crowded!”
Graeme Hicks, Cornwall Council cabinet member for Transportation and Highways, says “Walking to school is a great thing for children to be doing. They get the exercise that every child needs and arrive at school feeling more alert and awake.
“Along with the health benefits for children we also get less traffic on the roads which means less congestion and pollution and less money spent on petrol by parents.”
Over 150 primary schools across Cornwall have requested special resource packs from the Sustainable Transport Group and over 27000 stickers have been sent out with the packs. The number of schools which have responded to the initiative encourages Rachael Thomas, Sustainable Transport Co-ordinator at Cornwall Council.
Rachael says: “The October walk to school week is a great reminder to pupils and parents to think about the way they travel to school. It’s also a great opportunity for new pupils to join in and understand the benefits of walking to school. Even if they live too far away to walk the whole journey, they can park away from school and walk the last part. This helps ease congestion around the school gate but also allows them to exercise and appreciate their surroundings.”
The aim is to raise the profile of walking and ensure that children and parents are reminded that walking to school can make a significant contribution to reducing congestion and also promote healthy lifestyles.