25 Apr 2018 Guest blog: Small steps = Big change
This April the Government officially announced the Soft Drinks Industry Levy – or the Sugar Tax – a long fought for result of campaigning which began in 2011. This is a strong example of how perseverance and little steps can lead to big change, an ethos that we at Living Streets wholeheartedly believe in, literally and figuratively.
For over 85 years Living Streets has been a beacon for walking. In the early days our campaigning led to the UK’s first zebra crossing and the introduction of speed limits. Today we face new challenges, but our work is as important as ever.
As a walking charity we want to ensure that every child that can walks to school, because with every little step they take they are building a habit that will last them a lifetime. A habit that sees them choosing to be outdoors and moving around rather than sitting in a car. Sadly it’s a way of life that is disappearing while problems such as obesity (and subsequent conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke) are on the increase. But it’s not all bad news; with the introduction of the Sugar Tax the Government has been able to double the PE and Sport Premium funding available to schools to £10 per pupil. With this funding, schools can offer more sustainable physical activity initiatives to their pupils – such as WOW – the year-round walk to school challenge and Walking Roots – in turn making movement and exercise a part of their daily lives.
What are WOW and Walking Roots?
Each May is National Walking Month a month appreciating the simplicity of walking, and nestled within the month is Walk to School Week. At Living Streets we believe in rewarding good behaviour because good behaviour leads to long term change. That’s why each Walk to School Week we create a fun theme for families to test the walking waters and take to their feet. This year the theme for Walk to School Week is Walking Roots. Participating schools receive a classroom activity pack and each day pupils are tasked with fun, explorative activities to do on their way to school. At the end of the week pupils receive a special reward and will have learnt a great deal more about trees and the ecosystems they support, but more importantly they’ve been able to experience what walking to school is like and are well on their way to building that valuable lifetime habit. WOW is the next step for many schools and pupils and is also based on a theme. Pupils who walk at least once per week to school are rewarded with a monthly badge.
With one in four cars on the road during peak time on their way to school it’s more important than ever to encourage as many families as possible to walk to school – reducing pollution and congestion, making our roads safer and increasing activity levels.
With every little step we are closer to becoming a healthier, more active, nation.
To find out more about the work Living Streets is involved in, follow this link.
Kim Creus, Marketing and Commucations Co-ordinator, Living Streets.