Scottish Govt urges families to reclaim the joy of walking to school

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The Daily Mile Foundation, Living Streets Scotland, Paths for All, and the Active Nation Commissioner, in partnership with the Scottish Government, are calling on families to reclaim the joy in everyday movement on the journey to school.

As schools return after months of being closed, the return of primary pupils to schools in Scotland is an opportunity for children and families to start the day active and energised, by choosing to make the journey by walking, wheeling, skipping, scooting or cycling instead of by private car.

The call is supported by a range of sport, health and physical activity organisations and is part is a strategic approach by the Scottish Government to support active journeys to school. The campaign supports Scotland’s ambition to become the first Daily Mile Nation[1], and the Scottish Government’s Clear Your Head campaign[2] by encouraging families to connect and chat with others on an active school run.

Over the last year, many families rediscovered the joy of getting outside and walking, cycling and exploring their local areas. During lockdown the number of adults visiting the outdoors at least once a week had increased to 80% by August 2020[3]. These increases are also seen on the journey to school: in September 2020 more than half of pupils in Scotland walked, cycled or scooted to school, and the number of pupils walking to school increased by 3.8% on the previous year[4]. With active travel at its highest level for ten years, families have an opportunity to lock in the benefits of an active journey to school.

Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Public Health and Sport said:

“I’m a keen runner and walker and even if I can only fit in a quick ten minutes around the block in the morning it has such a positive impact on my day. It’s been great to see the increase in walking running, cycling and scooting and we should build on these positive habits so that they become a routine part of the day. Not only do these activities have many benefits for our physical and mental health, they can also improve our environment.”

Lee Craigie, Scotland’s Active Nation Commissioner said:

“It’s time for a cultural shift in how we undertake our everyday short journeys, in particular the school run. Instead of this daily journey continuing to be a stressful chore that clogs our streets and lungs with vehicles and their emissions, we must all play our part in creating the sort of environments where children (and their parents and teachers) can start their day with fresh air and exercise. When walking, cycling, scooting and wheeling to school becomes the norm for everyone, we embed healthy, sustainable, fair travelling behaviours in our communities.”

Families should adhere to social distancing rules and wear face coverings at the school gates[5]. To create more space for safe interactions and social distancing, schools and local authorities can consider implementing traffic-free school streets[6] during the busiest times.

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