A record number of Cardiff school children are travelling to school in healthier and cleaner ways as part of a UK-wide walk to school programme.
WOW - the walk to school challenge from Living Streets has now been rolled out to 45 schools across the capital, making Cardiff the top Local Authority in Wales to deliver the scheme and one of the UK's top participating cities.
Delivered in joint partnership between Cardiff Council, Living Streets Cymru and in support of Cardiff's Schools Active Travel Programme, the pupil-led initiative allows children and young people to record their daily journeys to school on an interactive WOW Travel Tracker. Those pupils whotravel actively (walk, cycle or scoot) for a given number of days eachweekare rewarded with badges, which they can collect over the year.
The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe has backed the scheme and said:"In my Manifesto for the Future, I've asked the next Welsh Government to create walkable, 20-minute neighbourhoods where people can access most of their daily needs, including school, within a safe, 20-minute walk from their home.
"By walking or cycling to school we improve air quality and reduce the number of cars on the road, making journeys safer for everyone.WOW is a fun and easy way to encourage more children and their families to walk to school, improving their health and wellbeing."
This year, the WOW badges follow the theme of ‘Walk for the World'. All WOW badges are designed by pupils in an annual badge design competition and made in the UK from repurposed plastic material, including old fridge trays and yoghurt pot off-cuts. Each school will be awarded a trophy to celebrate the class with the highest active travel each month.
Children who live further away from school can still earn badges if families use Park and Stride or hop off the bus 10 minutes away from school and walk the rest of their journey.
Cardiff Council's Cabinet Member forTransport, Cllr Caro Wild said:"Cardiff Council has set out ambitious plans to transform active travel and public transport in the city with the aim of reducing congestion, improving air quality and combating the ongoing problems of climate change.
"The daily morning and afternoon school run, places heavy pressures on our road network adding to peak-time congestion and the number of children walking to school has decreased.
"The WOWTravel Tracker will providechildren with an incentive and help promote the long-term benefits associated with active travel, supporting our Active Travel to Schools programme."
Walking to school can help improve road safety and increase children's road awareness as well as improving mental health and wellbeing. In areas where WOW is already established, walking rates have increased by an average of23%. The scheme has also helped toreduce congestion and pollution with WOW schools seeing an average 30% reduction in car journeys to school.
Rhiannon Hardiman, Wales Manager, Living Streets Cymru says:"More children walking to school means fewer cars around the school gates, making them safer and cleaner. Walking is also good for our physical health and mental wellbeing, helping children get more active and improving concentration levels in the classroom.
"WOW - our walk to school challenge has increased walk to school rates in over 2,000 schools across the UK. We're very happy to be working in partnership with Cardiff Council to help more families in the capital enjoy the benefits of walking to school."
Albany Primary School has signed up to the scheme, and headteacher William Howlett said: "We are really excited at Albany Primary School to be working together to promote active travel in our community and launch the WOW travel tracker.
"Senedd Albany pupils started working on our active travel plan with the active travel schools team last spring, along with Living Streets, and we are delighted to be moving forward with it this year."
The WOW tracker is available in English and Welsh.
For more information about Cardiff Council's Active School Travel programme please visit: