Portadown parents urged ‘walk children to school’ as shocking stats revealed

Katie Fennell, Olivia Napier, Keelan Burns and Peter Kelly from St Teresas Primary School put their best foot forward to launch the Travelwise NI Walk to School Week.
Katie Fennell, Olivia Napier, Keelan Burns and Peter Kelly from St Teresas Primary School put their best foot forward to launch the Travelwise NI Walk to School Week.

Thousands of youngsters from across Portadown are expected to take part in this year’s Travelwise NI ‘Walk to School Week’.

It comes as over 200 schools from across Northern Ireland have signed up to the annual walking initiative which will take place from May 15 – 19 and promotes walking as a sustainable way of getting to and from school.

Travelwise NI is encouraging even more teachers, parents and pupils to get involved with the aim of reducing the number of cars on the roads around schools during peak hours.

Walking regularly has many health benefits and helps young pupils develop greater personal independence.

Many schools use this week as an opportunity to celebrate walking and to teach children how to do so in a safe manner.

Teachers and parents have been encouraged to discuss the personal benefits of walking and other active lifestyle choices with pupils to help make the most of Walk to School Week. This includes explaining daily exercise keeps us fit and healthy; that walking is good for our hearts, lungs, muscles and bones; and walking can also have a positive effect on our mood. Children that walk to school also arrive more alert and ready to start the day, whilst parents and children can both get fit walking to school and enjoy the time together.

Recent statistics from the Travel Survey for NI indicate that over half of Primary School children travel to school by car and only 31 per cent by active travel methods such as walking or cycling. Meanwhile only 18 per cent of post-primary school students use active travel means.

A spokesperson explained: “This will go a long way in helping to decrease congestion around the school gate which is a worrying factor for many schools and their neighbouring communities.”

Schools that have not yet registered for Walk to School Week can do so by emailing travelwiseni@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or visit nidirect.gov.uk/articles/walk-school-week.