14 January 2016
Sustrans Cymru is launching ‘Active Journeys’, a new three year programme funded by Welsh Government. The programme is designed to support schools across Wales to increase the number of pupils using active modes of transport for the school run, a key area for delivering the aims of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013.
It has been reported that only 35% of children are getting the recommended hour of physical activity every day. Walking or cycling to school is a practical way for children to be more physically active every day, and brings with it a whole range of other benefits to children’s health and wellbeing. Other benefits when fewer children are driven to school include a reduction in traffic congestion and C02 emissions.
100 primary schools will receive direct support from Sustrans schools officers to enable them to create a culture of active travel at their school. All schools in Wales are also invited to access a new active travel ‘advice service’ via the Sustrans website, Twitter, Facebook, email, phone or post. The service will provide resources and respond to queries about the practicalities of enabling children to travel by bike, scooter or on foot to school.
Sustrans will also work with pupils from 45 secondary schools to obtain their views on active travel infrastructure in their area. These consultations will inform local authorities in their duty to create Active Travel Act Integrated Network maps and in their delivery of Safe Routes in Communities projects.
Jane Lorimer, National Director for Sustrans Cymru said:
‘‘I am delighted that Sustrans will be able to support more schools in Wales than ever before through our Active Journeys project. We know that if children walk, cycle or scoot to school they are healthier and arrive at school alert and better able to concentrate in class. The service will support schools with their other healthy living and environmental activities as well as provide useful resources for the classroom. Equipping children with the skills and motivation to travel actively will serve them well throughout their lives.’’
Transport Minister, Edwina Hart said:
“Active travel to school offers many health and wellbeing benefits to children. That is why the Welsh Government is determined to see more children cycle or walk to school. We are already investing millions in safe walking and cycling infrastructure to schools in Wales and also fund Kerbcraft and cycle training schemes. This new service will encourage more pupils to take advantage of those facilities and create a culture of active travel among primary school pupils that they can carry on into their adult lives.”
Sue Hurry, Head Teacher at Coychurch Primary School said:
‘‘The support, guidance and encouragement we have received from Sustrans has certainly helped us to dramatically increase the number of children that walk, cycle and scoot to school at Coychurch Primary. The launch of Active Journeys will help us to build on this development and encourage more pupils and families to travel to school in an active and healthy way.’’
Throughout the year Sustrans will coordinate competitions and challenges such as the annual Big Pedal as well as a free online ‘School Mark’ award which will be available to schools in April. To keep up to date with the developments of the programme follow @SustransCymru on Twitter or visit Sustrans Cymru’s website.
Notes to editors:
• Sustrans is the charity that’s enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day.
• The Big Pedal is the UK’s largest inter-school cycling and scooting challenge, powered by Sustrans and supported by the Bike Hub. The Big Pedal 2016 will run from 18 April until the 29 April.
• The School Mark website will be launched in April 2016 and will be available to any school in Wales. Schools will be able to track progress and access a wealth of supporting resources in order to achieve three levels and become beacons of best practice.