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The story of a walking champion

Living Streets' WOW, improves student wellbeing, decreases congestion and improves safety around the school gates

Posted by Fiona Cowan | June 29, 2018 | Teaching

"I walk to school all the time, in all weathers, I know it keeps me healthy and it helps the planet. I am really proud of myself for this and look how many badges I have earned!"

These are the inspiring words of Bailey, a 10 year old boy from St John's C of E Primary in Blackpool.

You may wonder: why is Bailey a walking champion? Well, the answer is simple: his school has given him the opportunity to become one by taking part in Living Streets’ WOW - the year-round walk to school challenge!

WOW is a behaviour change programme that has encouraged millions of children and their families to swap the school ride for a school stride. WOW rewards primary school pupils who walk to school at least once a week with a monthly collectable badge and the benefits of this are countless. “When boys and girls like Bailey are equipped with the right tools, they can achieve incredible things”, says Nichola, Bailey’s teacher. “Pupils really understand the effects that a small change in habits, like walking instead of driving in the morning, have on their school, community and the planet”, she adds.

Statistics show that 1 in 4 cars on the road during the morning rush hour are on the school run. Furthermore, according to Living Streets’ research, it appears that nearly 60% of parents say their main concern about the safety of the area around their child's school is other vehicles driving too quickly. When a school takes part in WOW, they could be looking at decreasing the number of cars at the school gates by 30%, reducing congestion and improving safety.

Bailey loves taking part in WOW and has collected all 9 badges on offer so far. With less than two months to the end of the school year, Bailey is keen to keep walking as much as he can to earn the last two badges and set an example for the other school kids. Nichola tells Living Streets that it does the children good to see what their peers are achieving.

Over the course of the challenge, Bailey found many more benefits to WOW than just his pride in receiving the badge at the end of each month.

The best thing about walking is that it keeps me healthy. It’s helping to keep the world happy and walking to school wakes me up each morning so I am ready for learning. I enjoy walking and talking with my mum when she walks with me. My advice for everyone would be to just get walking to school and reduce the need for cars!

Wellbeing benefits include connecting with others during the walk, cycle or scoot to school. Furthermore, the fresh air and exercise can boost happiness, ensuring pupils arrive refreshed and ready to learn. In the case of Bailey’s primary school, WOW has brought the community around the school together. The parents remind each other about the walking events and it provides a talking point for those new to the school. Walking also gives teachers a relaxed way to have a catch up with parents as they walk into school.

To take part in WOW and join the millions of pupils and thousands of schools already on the challenge, you just need two things: the monthly badges to reward pupils and the WOW Travel Tracker to chart your pupils’ journeys.

The cost of WOW is only £2.00 per pupil for the year and can be fully funded using your PE and Sport Premium.

So why not follow Bailey’s advice and get your school walking too? The new theme for WOW 2018/19 is Walk the Seasons and resources are now available to buy!

For more information contact Sarah on 020 7456 9793 or visit www.livingstreets.org.uk/wow

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