Pupils organise Walk to School Wednesday campaign

Students at Monkseaton High

Students at Monkseaton High School have created their own competition and marketing campaign, designed to encourage their fellow pupils to become more active by walking to school at least once a week.

The group of students, aged 14 to 16 years, coordinated a weekly Walk to School Wednesday throughout February, with prizes, including shopping vouchers and healthy breakfasts, awarded to pupils each week. A grand prize of a game of Bubble Football for a student and nine friends is on offer, to encourage more people to take part.

Shauna, one of the students involved in organising the campaign, said: “I like the Walk to School Wednesday campaign because it promotes becoming healthier by making small changes like walking to school. Since I got involved it’s made me think about changes I can make in my habits to become healthier.”

The group created a Twitter account for participating students to share their walking to school selfies with, used the hashtag #wtsw to encourage people to tweet about the campaign, and they covered the school with hundreds of printed ‘happy feat’ to promote the campaign.

Maddy said: “I enjoy being a part of our Happy Feat project because it’s a really enjoyable and useful way of using my free time. I feel it’s a really good idea as a lot of people use cars and public transport when it really isn’t necessary. It’s so much healthier to walk or cycle those short distances and really easy to get into the habit.”  

Holly said: “I’ve always been concerned about the wellbeing of people around me. This has been a great opportunity for me to get involved with a project aiming to help others.”

The group also delivered assemblies to promote the competition and encouraged students taking part to submit selfies of themselves walking to school on a Wednesday.

Kelsie said: “I enjoy being part of the campaign group and it think it will benefit me a lot in the future. It’s great fun and satisfying being able to arrange something which will help other people.”

Tony said: “I think it’s important for people to make small changes in their lives, including walking, to become healthier. This motivated me to get involved in the Living Streets project. Personally I think Happy Feat has been a success so far. It’s been influential in getting many to walk instead of taking the bus or car.”

Kieran said: “In the dawn of a technological golden age, it is an unfortunate truth that physical and sporting activity is becoming a dying tradition. Happy Feat – our group – seeks to rectify this, we offer enticing incentives to encourage young people to take part in our project.”

The scheme has proven to be a hit, with 50 students and teachers taking Walk to School Wednesday selfies in the first two weeks.

Kerry Davison, Assistant Head teacher at Monkseaton High School, said: “The Happy Feat project has created an exciting buzz in school about walking to school and students we wouldn’t have expected have been really keen to get involved. The project team have gone from strength to strength building in confidence and self-esteem especially when delivering assemblies to their peers. The success of the project has to be accredited to their hard work and commitment” 

The team from Monkseaton High school are taking part in the Campaign in a Box Project, run by Living Streets on behalf of Go Smarter, which allows groups of students to explore barriers to walking. They are given a £500 budget and work with one of Living Streets schools coordinators to analyse barriers and design innovative solutions to reduce these.

Ed Laschet, Living Streets Secondary Schools coordinator said: “The Happy Feat campaign is an excellent example of how teams of young people can work together to do something for themselves and their peers. The team decided that lack of knowledge and health outcomes were the two barriers they wanted to address.

“The group are really well organised and the initiative has been completely designed and delivered by them. I’ve been thoroughly impressed by their teamwork and by each of them putting their own time in to make it such a success.”