Slough children put the WOW into walking to school

Published: 26 November 2018

The council’s sustainable transport team, Better by…, is teaming up with national walking charity Living Streets to get more of us out and walking.

WOW, which stands for Walk Once a Week or Walk On Wednesday, is an exciting, free project to encourage more children and their families to walk to school.

Last year, more than one million children in 4000 schools took part in the WOW campaign.

Through their involvement in the programme, pupil walking rates increased by 23 per cent and there were 30 per cent fewer cars at the school sites participating.

WOW will launch this month and will run until the end of the academic year. The schools involved will have a year-round walk to school challenge, rewarding pupils who walk to school at least once a week for four weeks, with a badge.

There will be 11 badges in total for children to collect across the year. Schools taking part will also receive up to £400 worth of supporting materials, support from Living Streets and more.

Participation in this project aims to help pupils feel healthier, reduce pollution and congestion around the school site, as well as make journeys safer.

Councillor Martin Carter, cabinet member for planning and transport, said: “We are committed to providing the community with access to sustainable forms of travel, as we are passionate about improving the environment, as well as the health and wellbeing of Slough residents.

“By working together with local schools we can encourage students to be more active during the school day, gaining a greater understanding of the importance of using greener forms of transport; in this case their feet!”

Fadumo Olow, project coordinator for Living Streets, said: “We are very excited to be working with Slough Borough Council to support local schools in the town.

“A generation ago, 70 per cent of us walked to school – now it’s less than half.

“We want to reverse this decline. We want children to be energised and empowered, and to make walking to school their natural choice.

“Local schools in Slough will be taking part in WOW - our year long walk challenge. Pupils, staff and parents will all work together to walk to school more often and in turn, make our communities safer and healthier.”

In addition, to coincide with this year’s national Road Safety Week (between 19 and 25 November), the Better by… team is working with a number of primary schools in the borough to promote the Safer Steps pedestrian safety campaign.

The initiative is being presented through a series of interactive and entertaining assemblies; combining magic, drama and puppets to help children remember these important messages around road safety.

Children are also advised on how to use different types of crossings, how to cross with a school crossing patroller and the importance of wearing a cycle helmet.

So far the team have delivered nine assemblies at local schools including Langley Hall Primary Academy, Willow Primary School, Iqra Primary School, St Mary's Primary School, Priory School, Marish Primary School, Penn Wood Primary and Nursery School and Holy Family Catholic School.

Amanda Bird, class teacher and PSHE coordinator at Marish Primary School, said: “What a fabulous assembly - the children were so engaged! The practical elements were superb and so were the props!

“The use of humour and the puppets were greatly appreciated by the younger year groups and later on in the week, our Year Five students were able to recall the advice on how to cross the road when on a local trip.”

These activities are part of the wider Better by… campaign, which aims to encourage people of all ages to use environmentally-friendly forms of travel, such as walking, cycling and public transport, while improving their fitness, saving money and time on the daily commute; and enabling residents to explore new places in the borough.

Other facets under the programme see the team working with those living, working and studying across Slough, and include:

• travel and journey planning training for job seekers and students to assist them in getting to interviews, training and places of work
• subsidised cycle skills lessons for all ages and abilities in Salt Hill Park
• community cycling events throughout the year featuring static bike races, bike roadshows, a smoothie making bike and advice to help residents to get back on their bikes
• working with local businesses to assist with cycle to work schemes and developing the cycle infrastructure in and around the borough
• discounted cycle maintenance courses and bike surgeries
• the Cycle Slough cycle hire
• cycle ride leader training and more.

If you would like further information on the team’s work with the borough’s schools, contact Ramandeep Gogna, sustainable transport officer: Ramandeep.gogna@slough.gov.uk