Published: 4th APRIL 2022

Ditching the car for an active school run

Ross and his son Coen have been leaving the car at home and embracing a longer, greener commute to school. The pair took part in Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel for the first time and have been inspired to carry on their newfound, active school run beyond the challenge.

Little boy leaning over a stone wall looking at the countryside views on his commute to school as part of Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel

© Ross Greenwood

Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel is the UK’s biggest walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling to school competition.

It’s all about finding active ways of travelling to school, which benefit people’s health, happiness and the environment.

As part of the 2022 challenge, more than 2,400 schools took part.

Coen was just one of over 750,000 pupils who reinvented their way of getting to the school gates this year. 

Swapping car wheels for wellies

After reading about this year's Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel challenge in St. John’s CE Primary School newsletter, Ross and Coen, who usually commute to school by car, have been walking and cycling instead.

You’d think an hour-long walk to school would tire four-year-old Coen out, but Ross describes how outdoor exercise has had the opposite effect on his child.

The dad-of-three who lives in Halifax told us:

“We started walking to school on the first week of Big Walk and Wheel and it’s the first time we’ve taken part.

“We’ve been really lucky with the warm and dry weather which helps motivate us to leave the house.

“I think this has been a factor in why Coen has been so up for our walks and cycles to school.

“On the first week of the challenge we walked there and back on three of the days and cycled our tandem bike on the other two.

“The walk takes just over an hour and the cycle is about half an hour.

“Being outdoors first thing in the morning for the length of our journey, really wakes Coen up.

“I think it’s definitely done him some good.

“Even though he’s only got little legs and it’s a long walk, he seems to have more energy when he gets to school.

“He's been absolutely buzzing by the time we reach the playground."

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We started walking to school on the first week of Big Walk and Wheel. Even though Coen's got little legs and it is a long walk, he seems to have more energy when he gets to school. Blockquote quotation marks
Little boy with his hands up in the air above his head. Stood in a field with his tandem bike in the foreground.

© Ross Greenwood

A good habit to keep

“We’re quite an active family, if the weather’s good we’ll get out in the evenings and most weekends we’ll do a fair bit of walking or cycling.

“Before the challenge we’d only ever cycled to school three or four times and they were rare occasions when the weather was nice.

“The rest of the time we’d drive to school in the car.

“Looking ahead, we’ll definitely be walking and cycling to school more, especially when the weather is nice.

“We’ve really enjoyed the experience and it’s been nice to spend that extra bit of quality time together.”

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Looking ahead, we’ll definitely be walking and cycling to school more, especially when the weather is nice. Blockquote quotation marks
Little boy side on walking through woodlands with his wellies on

© Ross Greenwood

The positive impact of an active school run

“As a gym owner, I understand the physical and mental benefits which exercise can offer people.

“And I think it’s important for children to be introduced to this concept from an early age.

“Some mornings it’s harder to get Coen motivated and out of the house (as it is for a lot of us).

“But I know from his face, as soon as he’s out there he’s enjoying every minute of it.

“Since we’ve been walking and cycling to school he’s been wanting to do it every day.

“And it’s not just Coen, I’ve seen loads of kids arriving to school on their scooters, which is great to see."

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As a gym owner, I understand the physical and mental benefits which exercise can offer people. And I think it’s important for children to be introduced to this concept from an early age. Blockquote quotation marks
Little boy sat on a tandem bike looking out at countryside views - on his way to school as part of Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel challenge

© Ross Greenwood

 

Seeking your own adventures

While not everyone has access to green spaces on their doorstep, we hope Ross and Coen’s story will inspire you to plan your own outdoor adventures with loved ones.

To discover new and active ways to make everyday journeys.

This could be on the school commute, as an after-school activity or on a weekend outing.

Choosing to walk, wheel or cycle doesn’t need to be limited to the 10 days of Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel.

We can all enjoy the benefits to our environment, health and happiness all year round.

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