Jarrow School students are the latest to put their best foot forward and back a campaign that’s persuading thousands of young people across Tyne and Wear to walk more.
The school is the 36th this year to take part in Living Streets’ Free Your Feet, a one-week walking challenge for secondary schools being run by the Schools Go Smarter alternative transport initiative.
“Jarrow is one of the final schools to take part in this academic year – across the region thousands of pupils have put their best foot forward and taken part in the challenge,” said Living Streets’ project co-ordinator Ed Laschet.
National charity Living Streets delivers Free Your Feet for Go Smarter - and it’s proved a popular challenge.
Pupils taking part are given a postcard to record the minutes they spend walking and are then entered into a prize draw at the end of the week.
“We’ve already got 40 schools lined up for Free Your Feet next year,” said Ed.
“Many of them will be taking part for a second time – the hope is that children do the challenge over years 7, 8 and 9 and build up a habit that can benefit them for a lifetime.”
Go Smarter is Tyne and Wear wide programme and aims to cut congestion by persuading people to leave their cars at home and find alternative ways to travel to school and work.
Leonie Kameli, Head of Year 7 at Jarrow School, said: “Many of our students already walk to school but this initiative enabled us to promote that further.
“It also encouraged those who use other modes of transport to complete all or some of their journey on foot.”
“It is an ideal time of year to get students thinking about being active due to the improving weather conditions and lighter nights. As a result of this project, Living Streets will now be working with some of our Student Council representatives to develop a campaign to further promote walking amongst the students.”
Before schools hold a Free Your Feet week, Living Streets delivers assemblies to introduce the challenge, explain the benefits of walking, and suggest practical ways students can incorporate walking more into their routine.
Ed said students at the schools taking part in Free Your Feet have been enthusiastic about the scheme.
“When I visit the schools, a lot of the pupils come up to tell me how many miles they’ve walked or cycled to school,” he said.
“We get a good response from the young people to our message about being fit and healthy, and they also appreciate that walking helps the environment.
“The students are a lot more aware of their health and the environment than I think their ever given credit for.”
Nick Clennett, lead officer from Go Smarter said the campaign was delighted at the response from schools and students to Free Your Feet.
“We hope if students gain a better understanding of the positive impact of walking and discover that walking is safe and fun, they’ll choose to walk regularly year round,” he said.