Most children get driven to school and that has consequences for their health as well as their development. How are they going to figure out which way to walk, which street to take, if they sit in the back of a car? As a child I had to walk across town to school and while walking, I used my senses to find my way through, I would meet people, get an awareness of what was happening. On other days, I would pass shops before they opened and see people starting their day, some would smile and others would be too busy but within all that was a sense of belonging, and a connection between home and school which took me on a familiar route. When my daughter walked to school, one neighbour used to set her watch by it, when my daughter left, it signalled the start of her day. I feel some of that has been lost over the last 10 years.
Living in town, its quite easy to navigate and learn road safety but in the countryside, drivers drive fast and children and adults can often not be seen and then to avoid collision, pedestrians often have to jump in a hedge, literally to get out of the path of a fast driving car. There are no streetlights in the country lanes.
In the meantime, walking to school for my son would mean a 3 mile walk each day which would probably be good for his health, He would require boots and wet weather gear during the wintertime and certainly a torch and reflective lights. He could cycle but then again, there is no storage at the school for his bike and he would need to have a lot more training on road safety and also learn the basics of how to look after a bike, how to mend a puncture etc.
I am excited to be part of this study, which hopefully will engage not only the children, staff and parents but also the wider community to make a change and reduce our dependance on fossil fuels and cars. What is exciting also is that some footpaths may well be rediscovered and used which in turn will mean that the children and adults will discover the wildlife and wild flowers that make the hedgerows their habitat.
Going to school by car may have been quicker but a lot has been missed too. Go discover a new route....to school, to work.....