AN unexpected “passenger” joined pupils as they made their way to school on their walking bus.
Strider, the mascot of national charity Living Streets’ Walk to School scheme, joined children on their daily walk to St Helen’s Primary School, on the Headland.
The occasion marked the 10th anniversary of the school’s walking bus and the pupils enjoyed a celebratory tea party upon their arrival at school.
The walking bus which is used every day by 16 pupils, picks up children at several points along the route to school and escorts them in under the supervision of fully-trained staff.
Strider was also present to celebrate the school’s success in increasing the walking rate generally amongst its pupils from 53 per cent to 74 per cent.
This has largely been achieved through the school’s participation in a town-wide project to promote walking that is run jointly by Hartlepool Borough Council and Living Streets with funding from the Government’s Local Sustainable Travel Fund.
Living Streets’ Sally Fixter, who co-ordinates the project from within the council’s road safety team, said: “By launching its own Walk Once a Week (WoW) scheme, St Helen’s has become the most improved school in year one of the project in terms of encouraging more of its pupils to walk.
“This is a great achievement and we were delighted to present the school with a trophy to mark its success.”
Councillor Jim Ainslie, vice-chair of Hartlepool Council’s neighbourhood services committee, said: “Walking is good for your health and it can also help to reduce traffic congestion outside our schools, improving safety for all.”