This week welcomes the start of a national ten-day initiative to get children to walk, cycle, or scoot to school and many Sheffield schools are taking part.
The Big Walk and Wheel, hosted by Sustrans, is the UK’s largest inter-school challenge that inspires pupils and parents to get active on the school run with, almost 800,000 pupils participating.
Schools can register to take part in the event and over 30 schools in South Yorkshire have signed up to it. It will run from 21 March to 1 April.
Kristina Scott, a teacher at Nether Green Infant School in Sheffield, said: “We try to get involved in all of these kinds of things, just to keep the children happy and to get their parents walking more.
“The children love coming in and the first thing they say is about how they travelled to school, so it must be having some impact.”
Ms Scott said that they are trying to make it fun for the children and created a ‘dress up your scooter day’ where they can add glitter and decorations, as well as rewarding those who walked to school through badges, stickers and a celebration assembly at the end.
In recent years, the number of children walking to school has decreased to 51 per cent of primary school children, compared to 70 per cent walking to school only a generation ago. These figures have coincided with childhood obesity statistics rising – increasing from 21 per cent of children aged 10-11 in 2019/20 to 25.5 per cent being obese in 2020/21.
This comes after the Government’s target to increase the proportion of primary school children walking to school to 55 per cent by 2025.
Headteacher at Carterknowle Junior School in Sheffield, Mrs Haynes, said: “[We are taking part] because we are thinking about how being physically active helps keep us mentally and physically healthy. It also reduces pollution and congestion.
“It’s a good way to make physical activity part of everyday life.”
She says that the majority of pupils are taking part and enjoying it, with Carterknowle ranking 20th on the national leaderboard after the first day.
Sustrans, the charity behind the Big Walk and Wheel, is dedicated to making it easier for people to walk and cycle. More information can be found on their website.