Children and parents are being encouraged to walk to school as part of a month long initiative.
Milton Keynes Council is backing international Walk to School month, which starts today, in the hope that they can try and reduce the number of children developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other obesity related illnesses now and in later life.
In conjunction with local schools the council runs Walk N Roll which rewards children with vouchers for leisure activities based on the number of journeys they have made to school using a sustainable form of transport.
Councillor John Bint, Cabinet member for Road Safety said: “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of encouraging children to walk, cycle or scoot to school, if the journey is short enough, rather than be dropped off in a car. The physical activity keeps them fit and healthy and they arrive at school feeling energetic, alert and ready to learn. It also means less vehicles and congestion around schools which has long been an issue in Milton Keynes.”
Mum of three, Debbie, says she has noticed the benefits of walking regularly to school with Omar, six, four-year-old Hamzah, and their sister Danyah, who though only three, happily walks alongside her brothers.
Debbie said: “Since Omar’s school started the Livings Streets WoW (Walk Once a Week) scheme the children have become so enthusiastic about walking that we walk to school every day. They are slim, active and full of life; Danyah used to sit in the buggy, but she has become stronger and likes to walk with her brothers. Omar complains if we travel by car now and asks ‘why can’t we walk?’ even on a recent trip to Scotland.”
Living Streets’ Chief Executive, Tony Armstrong, said: “Walking to school regularly is a fantastic way to help children reach the recommended daily 60 minutes of physical activity. It’s also a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your children and enjoy the benefit of a short blast of fresh air in the morning.
“The evidence for the health benefits of walking is overwhelming and who would not want to help to secure a healthy future for their children? International Walk to School Month is an opportunity to give it a go and encourage children to set healthy habits for the future.”