Pupils and parents in Wolverhampton are being encouraged to put their best foot forward and step out for Walk to School Week which begins on Monday (21 May).
Around a million children and families nationwide will be celebrating Living Streets’ Walk to School Week and swapping the school run for a school walk – either by leaving the car at home or parking further away from the school and walking the rest of the way.
Experts recommend that children are physically active for at least 60 minutes a day to stay fit and maintain a healthy weight, and walking to school is an easy way to achieve some of these active minutes.
Children who travel actively to school will arrive feeling refreshed and ready to learn, and evidence suggests they will do better in class and be happier, healthier and more independent as a result.
Councillor Lynne Moran, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education, said: "A generation ago, more than two thirds of children walked to school, but now it's dropped to half.
“There are so many benefits from choosing to walk to school rather than driving, from improving the health and wellbeing of children and their parents, to helping to reduce congestion and pollution, and so I would encourage all our schools to take part in this very important campaign."
Councillor Hazel Malcolm, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, added: "We have a well-documented problem with high levels of obesity among both adults and children and young people in Wolverhampton, and incorporating even a short, brisk walk into people's daily routines can bring about fantastic mental and physical health benefits."
National Walk to School Week is organised by the walking charity Living Streets, which is currently working with a number of Wolverhampton schools to encourage more people to walk to school, including Loxdale, West Park, East Park, Palmer’s Cross, SS Peter and Paul, Lanesfield, Eastfield, Wilkinson, Stow Heath, D’Eyncourt, Oak Meadow and Elston Hall primary and Woodfield Infant and Junior schools.
Woodfield Junior School Headteacher Philip Salisbury said: "We began to encourage more children to walk to school for two main reasons. The first was the terrible traffic situation we have outside the school twice a day; it is distressing for residents, children and parents alike, as well as being very dangerous.
"The second was for health and wellbeing reasons. It is good for children of all ages to walk, however short the distance, and we are a school that promotes healthy activity for all our children and staff."
Tom Richards, from Living Streets, said: "Nationally, 79% of boys and 84% of girls fail to get 60 minutes of physical activity every day, while around a quarter of cars on the road during the morning rush hour are taking children to school, causing congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions.
"Through Walk to School Week, we want more children and their families to make walking the natural choice and making walking part of every child's daily routine."
To find out more about National Walk to School Week, and to download a free Family Walk to School Kit, please visit www.livingstreets.org.uk/walk-to-school. People who make a pledge to join in could win a £40 shopping voucher.
Schools in Wolverhampton which would like to work with Living Streets to promote walking to their pupils and families are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org.