Thurgoland pupils lead the way in national walking initiative

Pupils in Thurgoland, Barnsley are celebrating after securing top spot in a regional leaderboard of active schools.   

Thurgoland CofE Primary School takes part in WOW - the walk to school challenge from charity Living Streets. WOW sees pupils record how they get to school using the interactive WOW Travel Tracker with those who walk, wheel, cycle, scoot or ‘Park and Stride’ to school being awarded a monthly WOW badge.

The Walk of Fame helps boost pupils’ engagement in WOW and increase walking rates at schools. With a few challenges scattered across the school year, the Walk of Fame supports pupils’ health and wellbeing while reducing congestion and pollution around the gates.

In only their first term doing WOW, pupils at Thurgoland CofE Primary School triumphed in the autumn Walk of Fame Challenge which asked them to walk to school as many times as possible between 3 and 31 October. Pupils who live too far away or are not able to walk the whole way to school were encouraged to Park and Stride by asking their parents or carers to park at least ten minutes away from the school and walk or wheel the rest of the way.

A generation ago, 70 per cent of primary school-aged children walked to school, now it’s around half. Living Streets is working to reverse the decline in walking rates. WOW schools typically see an increase in walking rates by 23 per cent with a 30 per cent reduction in cars driving to the school gates.

Nationally, 43 per cent of 5–10-year-olds are driven to school. However, since beginning WOW, just 8 per cent of journeys recorded on the WOW Travel Tracker by pupils at Thurgoland CofE Primary School are car trips all the way to the school gates – a substantial decrease.

Councillor James Higginbottom, Cabinet Spokesperson for Environment and Highways, said: “Congratulations to Thurgoland Church of England Primary School on their incredible achievement, walking, cycling and scooting all the way to the top of the leaderboards. It is great to see the school finishing so high nationally in their first term taking part, showing the rest of the country how passionate we are about building greener, healthier futures for our children and young people.

"The school run provides an excellent opportunity to be active before the day begins and will help reduce the number of cars outside the school gates. Walking, cycling and scooting to school is an easy way to help our borough move to net zero, reducing our carbon emissions and protecting our borough for future generations.”

Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive of Living Streets, said:  “It’s fantastic to celebrate the achievements of the top regional schools across the country as part of the WOW Walk of Fame challenge. Walking to school helps children to meet the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day needed to stay fit, healthy and happy and it can also reduce congestion, air pollution and road danger outside the school gates.

“It’s great that pupils at Thurgoland CofE Primary School are benefitting from walking to school. They are an inspiration and I’m sure that they’ll encourage other children and their families to follow in their footsteps.”

WOW pupils also celebrated International Walk to School Month this October, when families around the world are encouraged to leave the car at home and walk, wheel or cycle to school instead.

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