Last week children, parents and staff throughout the schools in Henley participated in the ‘5 Day Walk To School Challenge’ to raise awareness of pollution and promote well-being.
Pollution continues to be an issue in Henley as it remains an Air Quality Management Area. This means that Henley is not meeting the National Air Quality Objectives set out by the government and therefore we all need to do our part to reduce pollution in our town. Clean Air For Henley are already tackling this issue from another angle by encouraging drivers to ‘Stop Idling’ their engines around the town. David Dickie from Clean Air for Henley said, “We were delighted to put up four banners outside schools during the Walk to School week. The banners were funded from money from Henley Town Council’s Transport Strategy committee.”
Tim Hoskins, Deputy Headteacher at Badgemore School said, “We hoped that as many children as possible walked to school this week and consequently there will be less cars on the road, less idling and less pollution. Let’s take the step together. The children, parents and staff at Badgemore have taken up the challenge. It has been lovely that so many children have been walking this week and we hope that it become more a positive habit.”
Many children and parents at St Mary’s Preparatory School have been walking together, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, walking an average of 1km every morning at 8am before the school day begins.
Helen Astle, one of the parents at St Mary’s Preparatory School, Henley, said, “We have been trying to shorten the drives of those that live to the north of Henley, by parking at the top of town and giving the children approximately 1 km to walk. Hopefully, we can inspire the parents and children to keep it up! My daughter has asthma and so I would love to do anything I can to reduce the number of cars on the road.”
Zach Astle, aged 9 (holding the red hashtag sign) just told me: ‘It has been great fun walking to school with my friends every day. Everyone who can walk to school should. It is lots of fun and much better for the environment also”.
Tim Coulson, Headteacher from Valley Road School said, “Year Six were delighted to lead the way with the Walk to School Challenge. Our class councillors took the lead in encouraging their class-mates to talk, walk and enjoy their morning journey. The children were enthused with the challenge and ready to fill their class poster with lots of stickers! This year’s WTSW also coincides with our own drive to reduce single use plastics in the children’s lunchboxes – a project being ably championed by Year Three and will also support our final topic in class: Climate Champions!”
Rupert House School took part in Living Streets 90th anniversary of Walk to School week. Children from Nursery to Year 6 walked, cycled, scooted and shared lifts to reduce use of cars in the town centre. Teacher, Fleur Wells said, “Our Year 6 girls were great ambassadors for Clean Air for Henley and encouraged the younger pupils by handing out stickers and displaying a large banner across the school railings for all local drivers to see. We noticed a big reduction in cars pulling up outside school, we hope this will continue to happen.”
Below are some reasons why walking (or cycling) to school is a great idea:
Soaring rates of childhood obesity and illnesses such as type 2 diabetes associated with this can be prevented through a healthy dose of walking. In fact, walking helps protect the body from many serious illnesses later on in life. On average around half of all children do not do the minimum one hour a day of physical activity recommended by the Health Education Authority. A brisk walk to school can help them get their daily exercise and arrive at school or home, refreshed and energised.
Walking can have a positive effect on a child’s emotional wellbeing. It can encourage independence, road sense and also be an opportunity to chat with friends.
The average drive to school and back releases 800g of CO2 into the air – enough to inflate over 60 balloons.
Encouraging your child to walk to school will save you money on transport fares or petrol money.