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Small steps can make a big difference

Living Streets encourages schools to introduce small changes which will make a huge difference to children

Posted by Fiona Cowan | July 17, 2017 | Health & wellbeing

WOW, the year-round walk to school challenge is the UK’s leading behaviour change programme for young people. Thousands of children around the country are taking part in the Living Streets initiative and walking in participating schools has increased by up to 60 per cent.

There are numerous benefits to opting to leave the car keys at home. A generation ago 70 per cent of us walked to school, in just 20 years that figure has dropped to below half and the health of our children is at stake. One in three children are leaving primary school overweight or obese and air pollution has reached toxic levels in certain areas of the country. But health and environment aside walking to school is an important social activity for children. Along with discussing life and matters with their school peers and family, they also learn valuable road safety skills which they’ll carry with them for life.

What is WOW and how does it work?

WOW encourages children to walk to school by rewarding them with a monthly badge if they travelled to school actively (that’s walking, scooting or cycling) at least once per week. The badges, made from recycled yoghurt-pot material, follow an annual theme (this upcoming year we’re walking the Americas) and we provide curriculum-led learning resources to allow pupils to further explore the theme. Not only are children thrilled to earn a badge but they are also learning about fun and interesting topics such as The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or the wild and wonderful creatures of Central America - these are a few of our topics coming up in the new school year. To help schools collect travel results they can use the WOW Travel Tracker, an interactive tool which records pupils’ journeys each morning. At the end of the month pupils who travelled to school actively at least once per week will receive their badge. The tool is simple and easy to use and it takes just minutes to record, in many schools a pupil is designated the role of Travel Tracker Monitor to help the teachers collect the data. The data collated by the WOW Travel Tracker can be used to earn your school a Modeshift STAR award, the national school sustainable travel awards scheme .

But what about families that live far away?

We know it’s not possible for everyone to walk all the way to school and we don’t want them to feel left out from the benefits that it brings. For families that drive you could set up a Park & Stride scheme. Ask those using vehicles to park in a designated area (we can help you set that up) and walk the rest of the way to school. Wansdyke Primary in Bristol set up their Park & Stride scheme in January 2017. This school of 211 pupils is nestled in a cul-de-sac and congestion at the school gates was becoming a serious problem. Since joining WOW and setting up their Park & Stride scheme, walking rates have increased by 58 per cent and they’ve earned a Modeshift Bronze award.

Join WOW by the end of term and get a free gift

WOW’s walk the Americas badges and materials are now on sale and if you purchase a year’s worth of resources by Friday 21 July you’ll get your subscription to the WOW Travel Tracker for free (usually £30 per year). WOW costs just £1.50 per pupil per year and you can now use your PE and Sport Premium funding towards active travel schemes such as this. Give us a call today to join up to WOW and start making big changes in your school.

Call Sarah on 020 7456 9793 or email orders@livingstreets.org.uk

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