It’s national Walk to School Week

Written by Scott Campbell, Cumbernauld Media's Senior Reporter.

Published at 18:01 on 19 May 2015

Education    North Lanarkshire Council

National Walk to School Week runs until this Friday.

CUMBERNAULD school pupils and their parents are being urged to swap the wheels for feet as national ‘Walk to School Week’ gets underway.

The focus of this year's campaign, run by the charity Living Streets, is to highlight the health benefits of walking to school, with North Lanarkshire Council one of the organisations supporting the initiative.

North Lanarkshire Council has confirmed that their Road Safety Team will be working alongside various local schools throughout Cumbernauld to ensure that the school run becomes and remains both healthier and safer for parents and students. 

Commenting, David McDove, Assistant Business Manager of Traffic Management, Strategy and Safety, at North Lanarkshire Council said:  "Walking to and from school is an excellent way of building a bit more exercise into our days, especially now that we're into Spring and the weather is improving.

"As well as keeping your body fit, walking keeps children's minds alert and ready for school and it helps the environment by cutting congestion and pollution on our streets,” he added.

As this week progresses, the campaign highlights a number of different benefits from ditching the car and walking to and from school. 

Yesterday, the message was that daily exercise keeps you fit and healthy; today, the campaign message is that walking keeps young minds alert and ready for school; tomorrow, the campaign will say that the habit of a daily walk can encourage other healthy habits. On Thursday, the message of the campaign will be that families can spend quality time together on the walk to school; and, finally, on Friday, the message will be that walking means less pollution and cleaner air.

This year’s national Walk to School Week comes after Living Streets’, the charity behind the campaign, released results of a survey that outlined the barriers keeping people from doing the daily walk to school.

A YouGov survey of 1,002 British parents of children aged between 5 and 11 who attend primary school, between 29th April and 4th May 2015 found that speeding cars, aggression from other adults and worrying about stranger danger are some of the everyday barriers parents face in walking to school.

Publishing and reacting to the results of the exclusive poll, Living Streets’ urged the government to step up to its commitment of getting 55% of primary aged children walking to school by 2025 in a bid to tackle many of these issues, with 76% of parents surveyed saying they feel a commitment to getting more children walking to school is a right priority for the government.

Living Streets’ claims that the UK’s children are some of the least active in the world and with the walk to school in long-term decline, and the charity has now called for issue to be put firmly back on the political agenda.

According to the survey, more than two fifths (42%) of all parents polled said that they had witnessed either physical or verbal aggression between other adults outside the school gates, while 68% of those surveyed saying vehicles driving too quickly worry them, with 62 per cent claiming that they worry about stranger danger.

According to the survey’s results, over 80% of parents polled (82%) said that they feel more schemes such as park and stride to make the walk to school safer and easier for children are the right priority for government, while 86% of respondents said that 20mph speed restrictions and parking enforcements around all schools is also a right priority.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Living Streets’ Chief Executive, Joe Irvin, said: “We need to urge the new government to ensure that the commitment to getting 55% of children walking to school over the next ten years remains firmly on the political agenda. Parents are telling us these issues should be a government priority, and we wholeheartedly agree.

“The benefits of the walk to school are enormous – it helps keep children healthy and active, improves their concentration and is great for wellbeing. Over the next 10 years, pupil numbers are going to increase. The walk to school is in long-term decline and it would impact greatly on future generations if something so vital to the health of our children became a thing of the past,” he added.