Today is the start of Walk to School Week.

Living Streets is a national charity that looks out for the interests of pedestrians. They and their supporters work together to create safe, attractive and enjoyable streets, where people want to walk. One of their main concerns is the fact that the  number of children walking to school has hit an all time low.

British children are more familiar with being strapped into a car seat than putting on a pair of trainers and going for a walk, according to national charity Living Streets at the launch of Walk to School Week (21-25 May).  Parents are risking the health and well-being of their kids by relying on the car rather than taking to their feet.

Research shows that the number of children travelling to school by car over the past 20 years has doubled, with the proportion of children walking to school reaching its lowest level ever.  Just 47% of primary school-aged kids now walk to school, with the figure falling to a paltry 36% amongst secondary school pupils.

It’s unsurprising therefore that the Government’s Chief Medical Officers state that 68% of boys and 76% of girls aged between 2 years and 15 years do not meet the minimum recommendation of an hour of moderate physical activity per day, resulting in exposure to health risks such as obesity, weak bones and future heart disease.  Anecdotal research also suggests that many children are no longer taught basic life skills such as how to cross the road safely.

Living Streets wants national Walk to School Week to highlight the benefits that walking can have for young people and their parents by increasing physical activity, improving life and social skills, reducing congestion around the school gate and saving on fuel costs.

Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Living Streets said:

“Walking to school is a brilliant way to get exercise and some fresh air into a child’s day. When children are bundled from front door to car door, they miss out on the opportunity to socialise with friends, get to know their community, and burn off some energy before getting their heads down in the books.

“We’re urging families up and down the country to give it a go during Walk to School Week this year. We think you’ll be amazed at what a difference a short blast of fresh air can do for you. It’s free, green and easy and above all it works. Schools that have adopted our own Walk Once a Week scheme have recorded higher incidence of walking than the national average. We need to encourage children to get walking now and set healthy habits for the future.”

Living Streets has developed some fantastic resources to help you promote walking in your school or local authority. Log on to www.walktoschool.org.uk <http://www.walktoschool.org.uk/>  for classroom challenge packs, information about setting up park and stride schemes and even free lesson plans!

Posted by Clare Kersey

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