Wakefield pupils celebrate Walk to School Week with new Mayor

20 May 2021

The new Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin joined Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee; Cllr Jacquie Speight, Portfolio holder for Culture, Leisure and Sport at Wakefield Council; and Mary Creagh, Chief Executive of Living Streets and former MP for Wakefield to celebrate national Walk to School Week on Wednesday.

Sandal Castle Primary School pupils are taking part in WOW – the year-round walk to school challenge from Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking.

WOW rewards children who walk to school at least once a week with collectable monthly badges. On average, WOW schools see a 23 per cent increase in pupils walking to school and a 30 per cent drop in cars driving all the way to the school gates, helping to reduce congestion, air pollution and increase physical activity amongst children.

Living Streets’ mascot, Strider, joined pupils to award badges to those who had walked, cycled or scooted to school.

Sandal Castle Primary School is taking part in WOW thanks to funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme, which is supporting primary and secondary schools across West Yorkshire with Living Streets’ WOW and Next Steps projects, to enable more pupils to travel to school more actively.

Next Steps supports and encourages final year pupils at primary school to walk, cycle or scoot to the secondary school they go on to attend.

Year 6 pupils at Sandal Castle will get involved in Next Steps during the summer term, followed by a walking challenge in the autumn at nearby Kettlethorpe High School.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:

“It’s so exciting to spend time with children from Wakefield making the most of Walk to School Week. I know through the WOW and Next Steps projects this great initiative will become part of their routine throughout their time in education.

“Walking to school is fun and keeps kids fit, as well as allowing time for great chats with friends and family.

“I’m absolutely committed to ensuring West Yorkshire reaches its net zero carbon target by 2038, and by supporting more families to ditch the car and walk to school, we’re taking a positive step in the right direction.”

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:

“The WOW project is something we’ve supported for several years now and it’s fantastic to see another school taking on the challenge - and getting involved in the Next Steps project too.

“Encouraging more people to adopt active travel into their everyday lives is a big part of the Combined Authority’s vision for the future of travel in West Yorkshire.

“By supporting children to walk to school regularly, we hope we’re encouraging the next generation to make walking a natural choice for their short, everyday journeys throughout the rest their lives.”

Mary Creagh, Chief Executive, Living Streets said:

“I’m thrilled to be back in Wakefield to encourage schools to get children active after lockdown and reduce the risk, congestion and pollution from cars on the school run.

“Walk to School Week is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the fresh air, fun, freedom, and friendship that walking to school brings and that every child deserves.

“Our walk to school challenge is easy to run and has a positive impact on health and wellbeing. Thanks to funding from the Combined Authority it’s free, so if you think it might work for your school, please sign up!”

*This story and video were first published by Living Streets