According to new research (July) undertaken in advance of Walk to School month (October), sponsored by Pom-Bear, 41% of children over 7 currently don’t walk to school. This figure is in line with Government statistics for primary school children being driven to school, who it is feared are becoming a generation of ‘backseat children’.
Of those surveyed who do walk their children to school, the main benefit of doing so was stated as exercise (50%), with the walk to and from school ensuring kids get enough physical exercise each day.
The Department of Health recommends that children take an average of 13,000 steps per day, to guarantee enough exercise to avoid the threat of obesity and diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis in later life.
Currently, only six out of ten boys and four out of ten girls achieve the recommended one-hour of moderate physical activity every day.
Following exercise, the next main benefit given for kids walking to school (by 23% of parents surveyed) is to enable them to learn about road safety awareness.
Children see things differently to grown ups – their peripheral vision is two-thirds that of an adult and they have difficulty determining where noise is coming from. They also cannot judge the speed and distance of vehicles. Which, perhaps, explains why just 12% of 8-10 year olds traveled to school without an adult in 2006 compared to 80% of 7-8 year olds in 1971.
POM-BEAR’S SAFE WALKING TIPS
- Teach your children the Green Cross Code and ensure they put this into practice every time they’re out walking. Children should not walk to school alone until they have learnt and confidently practice the code.
- Where possible, walk on pavements, keeping well away from the curb, and always walk between your children and the traffic.
- Make sure they can be seen at all times by using reflective and high visibility clothing. This is especially important at night and as evenings become darker during winter.
- Hold their hands firmly at all times.
- Teach them to pay attention when walking and never listen to personal stereo systems, use mobile phones or hand-held games.