Shoes on! We're walking to school

Family walking on street

It's back-to-school week for many families and that means lacing up those new school shoes and walking to class.

Or does it? Apparently, a generation ago 70 per cent of us walked to school, but now it's less than half. More kids are being driven to the school gates than are walking there.

Living Streets – the organisation supporting pedestrians – wants to reverse this trend and is calling on parents and carers to make that happen.

Walking rather than driving doesn't just avoid petrol costs and snarl-ups at the school gates. According to Living Streets, children who get some exercise first thing are happier, fitter and start the day ready to learn – not tired as some people might think. And by walking kids to school, parents and carers get that healthy benefit too.

You might expect walking will to longer, but factor in traffic and time looking for a place to park. The average primary school is a 20-minute walk away from pupils' homes, but if you're further out there are Park and Stride schemes to help you drive just part of the way. And isn't it nice to spend a few extra minutes chatting with the children each morning anyway?

Living Streets back to school 2

Reducing traffic around schools also makes the air cleaner – and, BTW, air pollution is up to nine to twelve times higher inside cars compared to outside, and research has shown that the benefits of walking outweigh the effects of breathing in dirty air – while travelling on foot is a good way to teach children about road safety and their local neighbourhoods.

Living Streets has loads of campaigns throughout the year to make the daily walk to school more fun. You can sign up for e-news too, or use the Rate Your Walk tool to get your route's walkability score and advice on how to improve it.

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