UK Government

Department of Health: London walk to school scheme receives funding to expand across England

Press Release   •   Jan 26, 2010 12:15 GMT

A London scheme that encourages families to ditch the car and walk their children to school at least once a week will receive an £800,000 boost from the Government to extend outside of the capital, Public Health Minister Gillian Merron will announce today.

The ‘Walk Once a Week’ scheme run by the Living Streets charity, is running in schools across all London boroughs and rewards children who walk to school one day a week with a collectable metal badge for each month they take part.

The £800,000 funding will be used to expand the scheme to at least 900 more schools across England, with a focus on areas with high numbers of overweight and obese children.

The scheme, which has been running for six years, has been an overwhelming success in London schools. Fifty-nine per cent of girls and sixty per sent of boys in participating schools take part in the scheme and walk to school at least one day a week.

Speaking at George Spicer Primary School in Enfield, where pupils are taking part in the scheme, Public Health Minister Gillian Merron said:

“Ditching the car and walking to school is an easy way for children and parents to be more active.

“Living Street’s ‘Walk Once A Week’ scheme is doing a great job at helping families get out and about by foot. The £800,000 of Government funding I am announcing today will mean even more kids can get active on their way to school. By walking the journey to school it can count towards the 60 active minutes children need every day and the 30 minutes mums and dads should get five times a week

“The scheme supports the Government’s Walk4Life campaign, part of our national Change4Life movement helping families to ‘eat well, move more and live longer’."

Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Living Streets said:

“Increasing activity levels and reducing the risk of obesity is one of the major priorities for anyone involved in children’s health or education today.  But it’s often hard to know what actually works, and what to prioritise from tight budgets.

“The Walk Once a Week Scheme is such a simple idea and so easy to implement – we hope that schools and local authorities up and down the country will get involved, and get more children up and down the country walking.

“We are very excited that the Department of Health has recognised the value of Walk Once a Week in the fight against obesity, and we look forward to working with them to reach more children in priority areas.

“Walking to school is one of the best ways to get everyday activity into families’ lives- good for health, and making a positive difference in reducing congestion, pollution and carbon.  It’s also a great way to spend real quality time with your children.  Every school can take part in Walk Once a Week - we want even more children and families to take part this year.  Details of how to get involved can be found on our website.”

Notes to editors

  • For media enquiries only please contact the Department of Health newsdesk on 0207 210 5221
  • The Walk Once a Week scheme is run by the national charity Living Streets.  It is part of their wider work to create safe, attractive and enjoyable streets, where people want to walk. For more information about Living Streets and the Walk Once a Week scheme please contact Anna Powell on 020 7377 4914 or visit http://www.livingstreets.org.uk/
  • The Chief Medical Officer recommends that children do 60 minutes of physical activity every day and that adults do 30 minutes, five days a week.
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