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Between 16 and 20 May, it’s Walk to School Week! The idea behind this initiative is to encourage children to be more active, and help them get at least the minimum amount of exercise per day. There seems to have been a growing trend over recent years of kids preferring to watch TV or play video games, rather than play sports or walk outside. Walk to School Week therefore works to combat this, promoting more active activities.
According to the NHS, children and young people up to the age of 18 should be doing at least 60 minutes of exercise per day. By walking to school, far more children are likely to reach this minimum target. So if you’re thinking about taking part in Walk to School Week, here’s what you need to know:
The primary benefit of walking to school, if this is a viable option, is getting exercise! But there are various other advantages to walking to and from school, which might be less obvious. We’ve looked at the main benefits below:
Getting some exercise, especially in the morning before school, is incredibly beneficial for children. Exercise can help set kids up for a good day at school, letting off steam and improving their concentration and focus. Getting the heart pumping, which a brisk walk can achieve, can improve cognitive function and improve concentration. Walking can also instil a sense of mental wellbeing.
Walking to school can also help children get into healthy habits, which will hopefully stay with them throughout their later lives. Walking regularly may become part of their normal routine, which will increase muscle strength, help strong bones develop, and tone the body.
Another benefit of walking to school is promoting independence. Although the children may not be walking on their own, especially if they are still young, they will be able to learn the route, as well as more about road safety. Then when they are old enough to walk by themselves, the kids will have the knowledge and confidence they’ll need to arrive at school on time!
Something you may not have considered with walking to school is building bonds in the community, and an increase in social interaction. If lots of children are walking to school, it’s likely that you’ll form a group, walking together. You and your kids can therefore get to know other children and parents.
With less cars on the road, because parents won’t be using their cars taking their children to school, traffic around the area will be reduced. This of course has the added benefit of reducing pollution and carbon emissions. Overall, we should have fewer cars on the road, and cleaner air when walking to school.
If you’re hoping to get involved in Walk to School Week, there is more than one way to take part! While it may be called ‘Walk to School Week,’ it’s not actually just about walking. The idea is to promote exercise of all kinds, from cycling to running. And if you live too far away from the school to walk the whole way, you’re encouraged to drive part of the way, then walk the rest.
If enough parents get involved in Walk to School Week, the traffic and air pollution around the school will be reduced. Hopefully children will want to keep walking to school after the week has finished too, meaning a continued positive environmental impact.
There are loads of resources available for both schools and parents who are interested in learning more about Walk to School Week. For instance, a framework for an assembly or group activity can be found on the BBC website. Such activities can help teach kids about the benefits of walking to school.
For kids, there are lots of free printable colouring pages and other activities available, promoting Walk to School Week. And if you set up rewards schemes, such as a sticker chart, documenting the mornings your children or pupils have walked to school, they’re bound to be more excited to get involved! Certificates could also be given to children who walk to school every day throughout the week.