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Driving to school can be damaging to child wellbeing

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Driving to school can be damaging to child wellbeing

25 Feb 2016

A UK study shows that children now have far less independent mobility than they did in the past and this is causing damage to physical and mental wellbeing. As children are increasingly driven to school their levels of physical activity have decreased. Getting to school or other locations on their own facilitates higher levels of outside-play and social interaction. This leads to higher levels of sociability and improved mental wellbeing. Children consequently have greater confidence and improved social skills from greater experience, and also wider community benefits such as closer neighbourhood relations, a stronger sense of community, and less fear of crime. Reduced likelihood of feelings of loneliness during adolescence is a further outcome cited.

In 1971, 86 per cent of the parents of primary school children surveyed said that  their children were allowed to travel home from school alone. By 1990, this had dropped to 35 per cent, and there was a further drop to 25 per cent being allowed to do so in 2010. In 1973 three quarters of children played in the streets around their homes, but by 2006 this had fallen to 15%.

For more information about the studies see Travelwest

For more information about encouraging independent mobility visit Sustrans and have a look at their guide to encouraging safe walking.

Last year Wiltshire Council ran Beat the Steet in Calne and Devizes, with some terrific results.  The competition asked players to register movement via beat boxes, which people touched with a card or key fob.  8,332 people took part and walked, cycled or scooted 145,534 miles in just six weeks. Participants are now being encouraged to fill in a survey to help us evaluate the success of the project.

And remember, this spring will see the return of The Big Pedal challenge which runs from 18th to 29th April and is open to individual classes as well as whole schools. On each day of the challenge, schools compete to see who can record the greatest number of pupils, staff and parents cycling or scooting to school. So get your bikes ready!