16 May 2016

Walk to School Week makes pupils SMILE

More than 12,000 children from 36 primary schools will be taking part in this year’s Walk to School Week from 16-20 May.

Piers the Meercat, the Walk to School mascot will be kept busy attending school assemblies and workshops reminding children of the benefits of walking to school and encouraging them to take part.

Piers also features in SMILE, (Smile, move, imagine, learn and enjoy) a new animated, video made with help from schoolchildren in Brighton & Hove to promote the benefits of an active journey to school. 
In the 5 minute video, school-children in Brighton and Hove are sharing the benefits of an active journey to school. They tell us that walking, scooting, cycling are great ways to help us ‘SMILE’, improve our mental health and practice the ‘5 ways to well-being’.

During the week children are invited to watch the 'Five ways to smile on the way to school' animation, and there’s also a competition where children are asked to write or draw what makes them happy. There will be prizes for the best entries.

Schools taking part this year include the Bilingual school where events will include aerobic activities, walking charts, (where the class that spends the longest amount of time walking at the end of the week wins an award), taking photographs, writing press releases and designing a poster for the website … in Spanish!

In addition  47 nurseries, pre-schools, nursery classes in schools, and some childminders, (around 4,200 children), are taking part in a Walking Week, organised by Brighton & Hove City Council’s school travel team to tie in with Walk to School Week.

They include kindergarten children from the Steiner School who already enjoy regular walks on the South Downs.

Kindergarten teacher Kim Harris explained why the children are delighted to be walking ‘on top of the world’:

“Children from our three kindergarten classes and playgroup walk every day, whatever the weather,” said Kim.  “They leave within a few minutes of each other and each group has a different route, but we cross over and greet each other. The local park ranger was so  impressed with their daily walks that he and his colleagues have made a fantastic log picnic/ story circle for them !”

She added that once a week, the children have a longer walk,  staying out for the morning , learning about trees, plants, birds and insects, visiting the sheep, climbing trees meeting dogs and owners  and doing ‘roly polys’ down hills!

“The children have also seen the park change with the seasons. It’s a wonderful experience for all of them.”

More information

The SMILE video highlights the five ways an active journey to school can boost happiness and aims to:

  • encourage families to choose safer, more active and sustainable travel options as an alternative to driving;
  • reduce road traffic, ease congestion and reduce carbone emissions, especially on routes to schools;
  • contribute towards the immediate and long-term health and well-being of children and young people;
  • provide guidance and support to schools which, through updating their School Travel Plan, are actively promoting walking and cycling to school;
  • allocating of Road Safety resources, for example cycle, scooter, and child pedestrian training to those schools which, through their School Travel Plan (STP) surveys and associated targets, have highlighted a need for training within their STP.

The film was made with the help of pupils from Carlton Hill Primary School, St Andrews CE Primary School and Hove Junior School.