Short walk makes a big difference for children

Pupils at Wickham primary school take part in an Anglo Saxon-themed walk as part of an initiative to promote healthy living and ease traffic. Picture: Sarah Lees

Pupils at Wickham primary school take part in an Anglo Saxon-themed walk as part of an initiative to promote healthy living and ease traffic. Picture: Sarah Lees

(L-r) Peter Griffin, STEM ambassador, with pupils from St Edmund's School Eloise Borrett, Bethryn Keysell, Louise Elliott and Pip Collins White  Picture: Sarah Standing (170584-7041)

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CHILDREN and their parents are being encouraged to walk to school to cut down on traffic congestion and to promote healthy living.

With little parking space on Buddens Road outside Wickham Church of England Primary School, in Wickham, the Junior Road Safety Officers and WoW (Walk once a Week) monitors decided to encourage children to walk to school at least once a week and help congestion at the school gates.

Their hard work has paid off and 183 children, 93 per cent of the school, gained a WoW badge.

Following an audit to help them assess a safe walking route, the school has persuaded the Wickham Centre Association to park at the local community centre, as well as the village square and Park and Stride sites, to ease congestion during the school run.

The staff and children took steps to motivate pupils by demonstrating that parking a little further away from school and walking part of the way can not only help people keep fit but also be fun, making it safer for everyone by keeping cars away from the school gate.

Teacher and sustainable travel champion Nicky Portlock said: ‘This Walk to School initiative has been successful.

‘We have been encouraged by the number of children who have persuaded their parents to leave the car further away from school so they can walk, cycle or scoot the rest of the way.’

Wickham primary was recently presented with a Modeshift Stars Bronze Award, which recognises the school’s work on sustainable travel.

Modeshift Stars is a national schools’ awards scheme that has been established to recognise schools that have demonstrated excellence in supporting cycling, walking and other forms of sustainable transport.

James West, joint travel planning manager at Wickham primary, added: ‘It was a really good uptake. It’s not just the importance of road safety but also it’s about keeping fit and healthy.’

Cllr Sean Woodward, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for economy, transport and environment, said: ‘By walking, scooting, cycling and using public transport for school journeys, we can all really help reduce congestion and pollution whilst increasing the safety of our children, bringing benefits to all including making Wickham an even nicer place to live.’

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