PRIMARY schools in north Oxfordshire are being urged to join a new walk to school initiative aimed at changing habits for life.
Four schools have signed up so far for the free Walk to School health campaign funded by Oxfordshire County Council.
These include St Mary’s Primary School, Banbury, North Hinksey Primary School, Southwold Primary School, Bicester, and Christopher Rawlins Primary, Adderbury.
Called the WOW challenge, it is run by charity Living Streets and encourages children to log their daily journeys to school and develop a healthy habit for a lifetime.
If children walk to work for a week each month they receive a badge.
The council has pledged to fund 20 schools – WOW usually costs £1.50 per pupil. Schools are being urged to sign up for the scheme by July 21 so they all set to get walking once the new academic term starts in September.
County council cabinet member for public health and education Hilary Hibbert-Biles said: “This is a great scheme which reduces congestion outside the school gates and creates healthy habits for a lifetime.”
Chesterton Primary School took part in Living Streets’ Walk to School Week challenge in May and saw reduced traffic outside the school and reported there was ‘real engagement from parents and pupils’.
Headteacher Iain Horner also left his car at home and walked 14 miles to work one morning.
He said: “In addition to the obvious environmental and traffic benefits, we feel that taking part gave families and children some quality time together and, for the ones arriving from further afield, a bit of an adventure.”
All schools that take part receive 11 badges for each pupil, a ‘travel tracker’ whiteboard for children to record their journeys, and guides for teachers.
Further funding is available from the Bicester Healthy New Town programme for schools in the area.
Kevin Croasdale, commercial manager of Living Streets, said: “It is simple and easy for schools to run, and just a few minutes of a teacher’s day is all it takes to make a big difference.”
This year’s badge theme is Walk the Americas, taking youngsters from the top of North America to the tip of South America.
For more information, contact Kevin Croasdale on 0207 377 4908 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.