Walk to School Week: Seven top tips to get children walking

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To celebrate the launch of Walk to School Week, which takes place from 21 – 25 May, we look at a few ways you can get your children involved with walking.

Did you know that in England, only 1 in 5 boys and 1 in 6 girls aged 5 – 15 are doing recommended levels of physical activity? A recent study found that 20% of journeys to school made by car were under a mile – an easily walkable distance.*

To help combat this, Living Streets, the UK charity of everyday walking, organises Walk to School Week, a countrywide celebration of walking for all children.

Each year, they put together a fun themed challenge for families to take on whilst walking to and from school. Last year, 400,000 children and their families joined the challenge and got a taste of the many benefits the simple act of walking can bring.

Top tips

Keen to get started? Here are some steps you can take to help get the children involved.

  1. Spend a bit of time as a family looking at potential routes to school and see how many you can find. Your child could decide which way they want to go. Work out how long it will take and when they would need to leave home.
  2. Play games on your way to school. For example, games like eye spy or ‘spot the…’ (you’ll have to decide which items to spot!) can help children feel more engaged on their walks. If you award points for each round they win, it’ll feel more like a competition and journeys will fly by.
  3. Arrange to meet friends on the way to school – after all, this is free ‘chat time’ before school.
  4. How good are your guessing skills? Guess the number of steps to school, test it out and count them!
  5. Encourage your school to take part in WOW – the year-round walk to school challenge. This academic year 57% of Bristol pupils’ who are taking part in WOW are walking to school – just above the government target – with your help we can smash this even further next academic year!**
  6. Take part in Happy Shoesday. Encourage your school to register and free resources will be sent to your school to help run the event.
  7. Scientists out there… keep track of how you feel when you get to school on the day you walk and when you travel by car. Do you feel different? More alert? Happier?

Why are Living Streets in Bristol?

Living Streets are working in partnership with Bristol City Council, funded by the Department for Transport’s Access Fund. They’re working with schools to encourage more active travel to school, reducing congestion at the school gates, and improving the air quality around the school.

Why walk?

Simply – it’s good for you and for the environment. It’s a win-win! Here are some more facts you might like to know…

  • According to the Chief Medical Officers of the UK, all children and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day.
    Department of Health, 2011
  • Increased levels of walking and cycling has the potential to save the National Health Service £17 billion pounds, over the course of 20 years.
    The Lancet, 2012
  • Physical inactivity contributes to one in six premature deaths in the UK.
    BHF Physical Inactivity Report 2017
  • 1 in 5 cars on the road during the morning peak are on the school run.
    National Travel Survey Data 2010
  • In 2015, 20% of journeys to school made by car were under 1 mile, an easily walkable distance.
    National Travel Survey Data 2015
  • Walking to work reduces strain and stress.
    UWE Commuting and Wellbeing Study, 2017
  • 23% increase in pupils’ walking rates in the first five weeks after WOW introduced in schools.
    Living Streets, 2016
  • 30% fewer cars at gates of WOW participating schools, reducing congestion and improving safety.
    Living Streets, 2016
  • According to our research, over 30% of parents said that their main concern about the safety of the area around their child’s school is overcrowding by the gates.
    Living Streets, 2016

Why not give walking to school a try this week? You never know what you might discover!

Did you know Bristol Walk Fest, the UK’s largest celebration of urban walking, takes place from 1 – 31 May 2018? See what’s happening and when on our events calendar page.

* Source: British Heart Foundation (BHF) Physical Activity Statistics 2015

** Car usage in Bristol schools dropped from 23% to 12% around schools that started WOW in September 2017.

Published in
Wed 2 May 2018
Last Updated
Sun 25 April 2021