West Wales schools initiative saves parents millions in fuel costs every year


Schools in West Wales still have time to sign up to the UK’s biggest inter-school walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling competition.


The Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel takes place 20-31 March 2023 and it inspires pupils to make active journeys to school, improve air quality in their neighbourhood and discover how these changes benefit their world.


The competition has been running since 2010 and sees schools compete on each day of the challenge to make the most journeys by walking, wheeling, scooting and cycling.


Hayley Keohane, Sustrans Cymru Curriculum and Communications Co-ordinator, said:


“Hundreds of thousands of pupils have risen to the challenge and embraced active travel each year, and this is such a fun event for schools to take part in.


“There’s a serious element too and not only does the event help reduce pollution around the school gates but in 2019 it helped parents to save an estimated £1.6million in petrol costs during the fortnight.”


Sustrans is a charity that aims to make walking, wheeling and cycling easier, and is delivering the competition with sponsors Schwalbe Tyres UK Limited.


Sustrans’ Big Walk and Wheel is open to all primary and secondary schools in the UK, including ALN schools, with prizes to be won every day.


Free resources are available to encourage pupils to help reduce air pollution and learn about the benefits of active travel for themselves, their school, their neighbourhood, and the whole planet.


School gate pollution


More than 2 million active journeys to 1,519 participating schools took place during the 2022 challenge, saving 1,335 tonnes of CO2 and 2,984kg NOx emissions if the journeys logged had otherwise been made by car (1).


In a YouGov survey in 2021 half (49%) of UK school pupils said they were worried about air pollution near their school, while 57% of pupils described the environment around their school as having too many cars.


Teachers also find that pupils who walk, wheel, scoot or cycle arrive at school more relaxed, alert and ready to start the day than those who travel by car. Active travel can also help reduce anxiety, depression, and the risk factors of developing cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and Type II diabetes.


While government guidelines say children and young people aged 5 to 18 need at least an hour of daily physical activity, the pandemic saw an increase in child obesity.


Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans, said:


“The Sustrans Big Walk and Wheel is a fantastic opportunity for parents and pupils across the UK to enjoy the fun of a healthier and cheaper school run by walking, wheeling or cycling.


“We want to help people get out of their cars, so even if you choose to travel actively for only part of the school journey you will still be making a difference and putting our environment front and centre. Every short car journey swapped for an active alternative helps cut pollution, for a cleaner environment and healthier, happier communities.”


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