Ditch the car and enjoy the walk

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Why don’t I walk my children to school? Let me list my excuses.

The main difficulty is I commute to Barnsley so straight after the school bell rings, I have to drive to work. We also live two miles from school so my kids, aged four and six, would struggle to walk that distance twice a day.

It’s not a particularly pleasant stroll as Hillsborough is heavily congested not only with cars and buses, but also the Supertram. There are dozens of roads to negotiate, including the one right outside our school which is terribly busy and doesn’t have a zebra crossing.

Finally, have you seen how many hills there are in Sheffield? The topography, coupled with the rain, would make us feel like drenched mountain goats.

But despite my excuses, I do appreciate the benefits of walking. I work alongside Darren Padgett of Team Activ, who is passionate and dedicated about getting our children healthy so they stay fit for life.

Darren explained: “One in three children now leave primary school overweight but less than half of children walk to school. There are difficulties for parents but walking is the oldest exercise and still the best. It’s free, easy and doesn’t need special equipment. Apart from the physical benefits, it gives families with very busy lives a chance to be together and catch up without any interruptions.”

So when our school took part in Sheffield Council’s 10-day Active Walking Challenge, it was the perfect time to give it a go. Pupils who walk, scooter or bike all, or part, of the way to school get a sticker each day. If they complete 10 days, they win a small prize.

I managed to find a parking space a few streets away from school so we now have a 10 minute walk in. It’s not a huge amount but every little helps and it’s actually a lovely start the day. We have time to chat properly rather than me half listening as I drive in rush hour and if we bump into other families, we swap notes about what’s going on at school.

There are still downsides. Contractor Amey has dug huge trenches in a lot of the pavements with open pipework and mazes of plastic fences so we spend a lot of time dodging on to the road and weaving in-between parked cars. I need to remember to wear flat shoes and stash my heels and heavy handbag in the car boot. And I’m sure I’ll be tempted back to my old parking space during the next torrential downpour.

As new habits go though, it’s a walk in the park.