La Houguette is first school to get the Wow walking factor

THE Wow Challenge, launched at La Houguette Primary School yesterday, aims to encourage pupils to travel to school actively this academic year.

At least 40 walkers set off wearing Christmas clothing from L’Eree at 8.05am, arriving to school shortly after 8.30am.

Nix Petit, active travel officer for the Health Improvement Commission, is trying to get all of the island’s primary schools on board.

‘Active travel can be done by and be fun for everyone. The point is to get everyone to enjoy walking to school and to make it easy and fun for students,’ Miss Petit said.

‘The Christmas theme today has kept motivation high.’

La Houguette was chosen to trial the initiative as there are drop-off points nearby with pavements going the whole way to school.

The school has a smaller catchment area, green lanes to travel through and safer park and stride areas.

‘All the barriers to walking into school can and will be overcome with other schools,’ said Miss Petit.

‘We have risk-assessed routes and put safety measures in place, with high-vis jackets, no more than two abreast, and an adult supervising every seven children.’

If children complete one walk to school per week they can receive 11 monthly badge prizes. These were designed by UK participants in the previous year and are made from recycled yoghurt pots.

‘While we are aiming for children to travel actively to school every day, this criteria is achievable for all. For those who live out of catchment areas this can be a lot easier and encourage good habits.’

Left to right: Indie Warren, 8, Willow Warren, 7, Indie Gallienne, 6, Lexi Fischer, 11, and Joe Ward, 11. (26683823)

Indie, 8, and Willow, 7, Warren live outside the catchment area but said they both really enjoyed walking to school and are going to walk in more than once a week.

Lexi Fischer, 11, said: ‘I’m looking forward to walking to school every day because it helps you learn and you’re more awake.’

Joe Ward, 11, said: ‘It’s good to walk to school because it strengthens your bones.’

Joe did not walk to school before Wow, but Lexi did occasionally. Both children said they took part in the Wow challenge the previous summer and will carry on walking.

‘Walking to school has lots of other positive unintended consequences, such as reducing traffic and air pollution, making the air safer and nicer to breathe in while walking,’ said Miss Petit.

‘By Year 6 we hope students will have learned the rules of the road and some independence for when they go into Year 7. The self-monitoring is key to this,’ said Miss Petit.

Any age can join, from Reception to Year 6, and children can log each day how they have travelled to school. The initiative aims to give them fresh air and exercise to have a productive school day.

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