Living Streets Cymru, part of the UK charity behind the biggest walk to school campaign is encouraging families to leave the car at home for International Walk to School Month this October.
Pupils around the globe will walk to school to celebrate International Walk to School Month – and in Wales, thousands of children are enjoying the benefits of active travel thanks to support from the Welsh Government.
As part of a two-year project, Living Streets Cymru will work with 170 primary schools and 42 secondary schools in its walk to school programmes in Wales by September 2025.
WOW – the walk to school challenge from Living Streets – 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.
Only around 50 per cent of primary school children in Wales walk to school and 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.
Walking to school helps contribute to the 60 active minutes a day recommended by health experts to keep children healthy and happy. Being active helps to prevent long-term chronic health conditions such as certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Healthy Weight Healthy Wales is the Welsh Government’s long-term strategy to prevent and reduce obesity in Wales.
Former Welsh international rugby union player and father of five, Nathan Brew, is an ambassador for Healthy Weight Healthy Wales. He said: “October is International Walk to School Month, so it’s a great time to encourage children to be more active.
“Walking, wheeling, cycling or scooting to school is good for our health, prepares children for a day of learning and lets them enjoy quality time with friends or family. If you don’t live close to your school, parking a little further away and walking the rest can still help reduce cars, congestion and air pollution around the school gates.”
Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for transport, said: “Schemes like WOW help children enjoy the many benefits of regular exercise, improving their health and wellbeing and making our communities safer and healthier places to live.”
Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive, Living Streets, said: “Walking or wheeling to school is an easy and inexpensive way for children and their friends and family to keep fit, healthy and happy.
“It also reduces carbon emissions which leads to improved air quality, and it can help boost concentration levels in the classroom.”
“We are incredibly grateful to the Welsh Government for supporting our initiatives to make a positive difference to children’s health and wellbeing in Wales.”