A class of young people at an additional learning needs school in Rhyl, North Wales are taking part in our Big Walk and Wheel challenge. We talked with their teacher Fran Hoare, to find out how her students benefit physically and mentally from getting active.
Fran Hoare's class is taking part in Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel.
Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel, the UK’s biggest inter-school walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling to school competition is back for another year.
Formerly known as Sustrans Big Pedal, over 2,000 schools have already signed up for the 2022 challenge.
With families and carers ditching their cars altogether, children and young people nationwide are gearing up to transform their school runs into greener, more active ones.
Taking on the challenge within our school gates
For children and young people with disabilities, changing how to travel to school can be a little more challenging.
Even so, nothing gets in the way of Fran Hoare’s class getting active for Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel.
Fran lives in Mold and has been teaching at Tir Morfa school in North Wales for over 20 years.
She told us:
My class is taking on Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel 2022 in their break and lunch times, by scooting around the school grounds.
Last year was the first year my class had been involved and they collectively travelled 10 miles every day on the wonderful scooters which Sustrans provided us with.
Sustrans officers also gave the students scooter training, which was great.
The challenge didn’t just improve their fitness, they really enjoyed the process too.
Being teenagers, my class don’t run around as much as younger children.
So for those two weeks, Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel gave them a real incentive to get active.
It was hugely motivating for them.
It filled them with confidence, they felt fitter and you could see they generally felt better about themselves.
At the beginning of the challenge they struggled to do 10 laps of the playground but by the end they were flying around it with ease.
I could really see a difference in their fitness.
Aspirations to take the challenge beyond our school gates
My class is just one example of how to take on Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel at school, rather than on the school run.
But I wish we didn’t have to.
Currently, many of my pupils live within one mile of the school and get picked up by a free minibus.
This arrangement is what’s preventing them from changing the way they travel to school.
The thing is, they’re all capable of scooting or walking that distance.
And if they were supported to make that change, it would make a really positive difference.
Not only to their own health and happiness, but to the wellbeing of others and the environment.
As a school, we’re trying to encourage our local authorities to introduce walking (and possibly scooting) buses.
That way our children and young people could be safely accompanied by an adult and enjoy an active school run.
From a mental health point of view, this would be so much better for a lot of our young people.
Over 2,000 schools are signed up for Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel 2022.
Motivating my class with route maps
For Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel last year, we had a map on the classroom wall with a simplified road route from Rhyl to Cardiff.
My class really took the lead with tallying up the number of miles they had each completed by the end of every day and coloured in the total number of miles covered collectively.
On the last day, when they finished the challenge, the whole class celebrated with ice cream.
There was a great sense of achievement in the air.
This year we’re going to try and walk, scoot and cycle around the whole of Wales, hypothetically of course.
We're one of two classes at Tir Morfa school taking part in the challenge.
Our virtual route will trail through Bangor, Aberystwyth, St Davids, Swansea, Cardiff, Wrexham and back to Rhyl, which is 450 miles in total.
It may be a little optimistic but it will be a good challenge.
Incredibly, off the back of last year's Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel, my class went on to do a sponsored scoot.
Raising money for a local cause by scooting a distance of over six miles.
I'm not sure they would have had the confidence to do this without taking part in the Big Walk and Wheel challenge first.
There’s still time to get involved
Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel runs from Monday 21 March until Friday 1 April 2022.
It’s open to all primary and secondary schools in the UK, including SEN/ASN/ALN schools.
So as long as your school is registered before Monday 28 March, you’ll be counted in.
If you have any questions, please email the Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel team.