This month is Walk to School Month, a worldwide initiative taking place in forty countries to highlight the benefits of walking to school. Evidence suggests that in Britain less than half of all primary school aged children travel to school on foot. In an age of childhood obesity, pollution, conjestion, road rage and worries about a generation becoming disconnected from nature, perhaps it is time to start highlighting the advantages of walking to school. We are supporters of the benefits of fresh air and so you’d expect us to champion the cause.
October is a great month to start a new regime. In general the weather isn’t all that dismal and getting up close and personal with nature can be a veritable attack on the senses. Even in urban areas you can experience the changing of the seasons at close quarters. There are leaves to crunch through, an array of burnished colours to admire, wildlife to spot and treasures to collect in the form of conkers, sloes and rose hips. For Our Flower Patch members walking around the local area can bring hidden benefits as you discover where to forage for a little filler foliage or collect pinecones and eye up evergreens for Christmas projects later in the season. (Did we really just mention Christmas! Oops sorry!)
When you are the parent of young children a walk to and from school twice a day, come rain or shine, can sometimes seem like a bit of a chore, especially when there are a million demands on your time. Even if you are a working parent with a desperate need to get to work before your boss, find time to do it. Set off earlier and park further away from school. Fifteen minutes spent out of doors every day can bring huge rewards in keeping mind and body healthy. Some schools have set up initiatives like the Walking Bus, where groups of children walk to school together supervised by a rota of parent volunteers.
Now that my children are older and walk themselves to school, I really miss the routine of ‘chat and stroll’ which bookends the school day, when we were undisturbed by telephones, pcs and all other demands on our time. Our family chat now takes place with coffee and cake in the garden at the end of school, which is pleasant but considerably less good for the waistline.
Related to the subject of safer walking to school we would like to let you know about a fantastic charity called The Finlay Foundation. Here are some words from Nikki Connor, its founder.
The Finlay Foundation is a charity that was set up after the tragic death, whilst walking to school, of my little boy Finlay Joseph aged 6 years in 2011. The charity has really grown in the 2 years that we have been running and we have provided many children in hospitals, hospices & charity run groups not only in Wiltshire, but in Hampshire, Somerset, Dorset, Devon & Bristol with toys, play equipment, art & craft materials as well as sensory equipment for brain injured children and a specialist boat for the charity ‘Sailability’ based in Bristol. We have also donated thousands of pounds to both The Wiltshire Air Ambulance & The Great Western Air Ambulance in Finlay’s memory.
Another aspect of our charity is promoting children’s safety, especially when out on the road. A child’s safety is paramount and with this is mind we have been giving high visibility vests to local primary & nursery schools as well as child minders and scout groups. It is so important we make our children visible to other road users and we hope this simple preventative measure of wearing a high visibility jacket when walking or cycling along the roads will help to reduce the chances of injury”.
Nikki has said that primary & nursery schools in Wiltshire are welcome to contact her to apply for High Visibility vests for their children. They would love to be able to offer them further afield, however they are looking for a more competitively priced printing deal – so if you know anyone who might be able to help out with this then also get in touch with Nikki.