Hartlepool families are being urged to get their children walking to school as part of an international campaign for sustainable travel.
International Walk to School Month is running throughout October and has received the backing of Hartlepool Borough Council initiative, the Hartlepool Active Travel Hub, to promote alternatives to travelling by car.
The campaign says by walking to school, children have improved health benefits by increasing fitness and air quality is improved by less congestion.
Tony Davison, the council’s sustainable travel officer who co-ordinates the work of the hub, said: “By driving to school less frequently or not at all, parents and carers can help to really make a difference.
“Fewer cars outside schools mean less congestion and improved air quality as a result of reduced vehicle exhaust emissions.
“Walking also brings obvious health benefits and children who walk tend to be more alert and ready to learn when they arrive at school.
“If walking all of the way to school is not feasible, we would ask people to consider driving only part of the way and completing their journey on foot.”
International Walk to School Month is also being supported by the national charity Living Streets, with whom the council has close links.
Chief executive Joe Irvin said: “Motor traffic is the biggest cause of air pollution and so encouraging people to walk short everyday journeys, such as the walk to school, is a big part of the solution to this growing problem.
“Encouraging children to be active every day also helps them maintain a healthy weight and develop healthy habits for life which will stave off chronic health conditions in the future.”
Efforts to promote walking have also been boosted with the news that Hartlepool Council’s Road Safety Team has secured funding for a three-year programme of pedestrian training for local school children.
The funding is being provided by the Government’s Access Fund via the Connect Tees Valley programme managed by the Tees Valley Combined Authority, which aims to promote and develop sustainable travel across the Tees Valley.
Mr Davison added: “The training programme links to the Government’s new Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy which, amongst other things, aims to encourage more children aged five to 10 to walk to school.”
More information about International Walk to School Month is available at www.livingstreets.org.uk/international-walk-to-school-month
To find out more about the work of the Hartlepool Active Travel Hub call (01429) 523259 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org