Schools across Newton Aycliffe have signed up to a new challenge this month to encourage families to travel more actively.
Durham County Council’s road safety team has been working in collaboration with Durham Constabulary’s Newton Aycliffe neighbourhood policing team, and the County Durham and Darlington Road Safety Partnership to reduce congestion in the town caused by school gate parking.
The Walking Bubble Challenge encourages families to walk, cycle or even scoot to school to win prizes for their class.
It was launched in support of national Walk to School Week, which ran last week.
As part of the campaign, a “walking bubble map” has been created for each participating primary school.
Each map has the school in the centre with a voluntary 100-metre no parking zone and a 400-metre bubble, equivalent to a five-minute walk to or from the site, drawn around it.
Pupils will record on a classroom wall chart if they have walked, cycled, scooted or parked further away from the school and walked through their bubble.
Prizes will be awarded for the biggest percentage uptake for a class and school, along with rewards for every school that took part in the challenge.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “This is an exciting challenge and it’s been great seeing all the children getting involved already.
“As well as being better for the environment, walking to school is great for improving physical and mental wellbeing.
“If more families choose to walk, or even bike and scoot, it will help us to reduce parking congestion at the school gates – something which is often a concern for parents and the surrounding community. Safer parking around schools keeps our children safe.”
Sergeant Andy Boyd, Newton Aycliffe neighbourhood police, said: “Inconsiderate school gate parking is an issue in every community across the country.
“Together with partners, we wanted to problem solve around this and creating a competition which got school pupils to encourage their parents to leave the car behind seemed like a good start.
“Not only could this decrease congestion and risk at school gates, but it also contributes to a healthier start and finish to the school day.”
One of the schools taking part is Woodham Burn Community Primary.
Head teacher Damian Sparrow said: “We’ve taken part in the Walking Bubbles challenge, it’s been a fantastic initiative to try and encourage children to come to school by bike, scoot or cycle.
“It’s massively increased the number of children who come to school in a healthy way and reduced the amount of cars that have parked on the drives.”
The schools taking part include:
• Woodham Burn Primary School
• Vane Road Primary School
• Sugar Hill Primary School
• Aycliffe Village Primary School
• Byerley Park Primary School
• St Francis CE Primary School and Horndale Infant School
• St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School
• St Mary’s Catholic Primary School