Walk to School – A Journey to Wellbeing

In September we are launching a new programme called Walk to School – A Journey to Wellbeing, which has been developed by Bristol City Council’s Active Travel team and Bristol Early Years in collaboration with BEYORN (Bristol Early Years Outdoor Research Network) and will be piloted in five settings across the city in 2021/2022.

Walk to School is a year-round programme aimed at 3-5 year olds and their parents/carers, and is designed to encourage walking to and from school as a path to mental and physical wellbeing.

The number of children walking to school is down significantly from a generation ago when 70% walked to primary school. In 2017 the government set its first ever target to increase the proportion of primary school children walking to school to 55% by 2025. Nationally the figure, as recorded pre Covid-19, currently stands at 51%.

The programme will aim not only to encourage walking to school or nursery as a healthy alternative to travelling by car and forming active travel habits at an early stage, but also as a way of engaging with the world around us and enhancing overall wellbeing in both parent/carer and child.

Based on the NHS 5 ways to Wellbeing, Walk to School incorporates activities and concepts from all five areas:

  • Connect – building up good relationships through effective communication
  • Be physically active
  • Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)
  • Keep learning (also through play)
  • Give / be kind

5 steps to mental wellbeing – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

By including walking into a daily routine, it will become a habit. If this habit is embedded at an early age, it is more likely to continue through a child’s school career and into adulthood.  A young child needs the support and encouragement from parents, carers and teachers to be able to form this habit, so Walk to School is very much a partnership between the parent/carer and school/nursery.

Walking for health – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Why schools need to focus more on the under-fives | Bristol Early Years

Changing ingrained behaviours is harder than fostering a ‘good’ behaviour from the start, so this is why Walk to School is specifically aimed at parents/carers and children as they begin their school life.  By making the behaviour easy to achieve, fun and peer supported, there is a greater chance of success, so the Walk to School scheme will be led by the Active Travel Team and supported by resources from several areas within Bristol City Council, including the Early Years, Healthy Schools and BristolGirlsCan teams.

Bristol Healthy Schools

Walk to School Contact