More than 60 primary schools across Oxfordshire are taking part in national Walk to School Week as the campaign to promote exercise, improve road safety and reduce congestion steps up.
Thousands of pupils have been getting active this week as part of a scheme commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council’s public health team working in partnership with Active Oxfordshire.
Walk to School Week is an extension of the WOW (formally Walk Once a Week) project supported by public health. Run by Living Streets, the year-round walk-to-school challenge uses a reward system.
Banbury’s St Mary’s CE Primary School signed up to WOW. All 145 children in years one to six are tracked and complete their own registration each school day on the Living Streets website.
When St Mary’s adopted the scheme in October 2017, 57 per cent were making active journeys to school. Now 76 per cent are moving actively.
Teri Smith, PE co-ordinator at St Mary’s, said: “There’s lots of excitement over the way children get to school and making sure they achieve their badges. We’re really proud of the way everyone has engaged with the scheme.”
Headteacher Victoria Woods added: “We teach children about road safety and behaving properly on their walk to school. The children like the badges and doing their own registration. They don’t have to walk every day which I think for working families makes it more accessible.”
Pupils are rewarded with badges monthly if they walk to school at least once a week with an incentive to claim up to 11 badges in the school year.
Year 4 pupil Finley Adu-Frimpong, eight, takes about 30 minutes to walk to school every day. “I like it because sometimes you can see your friends and chat to them. Walking also makes you fitter and stronger. I love the WOW scheme because you get badges every month – it makes you want to walk even more.”
Year 6 pupil Rio Ali, 11, walks to school three times a week, he said “It takes about 15 to 20 minutes and is really good for my health and fitness. I actually prefer walking to being dropped off in the car – it’s about socialising and being with my friends.”
Year 4 pupil Line Al-awad, nine, walks the 15-minute journey to school every day. “If you walk every day it gives you more energy, you get fresh air and it helps to develop your muscles.”
While year 5 pupil Mati Perez, 10, walks 20 minutes to school every day with her mum. “I like walking because it gets your brain ready for the day and it’s good exercise. It’s also good because it’s not polluting the area.”