Currently, it is estimated that one in three children in the UK is obese or overweight by the time they leave primary school. The seriousness of this problem cannot be overstated: it has major repercussions for society as a whole and for individual children’s quality of life.
The government’s latest policy options for addressing this crisis are now out for consultation, and from the KM Charity Team’s perspective the standout and most exciting proposal is to introduce a primary school “active mile”, with an emphasis on walking and cycling to school.
Walk to school and green travel schemes really have so much going for them: they are cheap, easy and simple to organise, and have the potential to include children from all backgrounds. They are the perfect way of addressing a problem that is notoriously complex and sensitive.
They also chime perfectly with another theme of the government’s strategy: pester power.
One of the government’s proposals is to force supermarkets to withdraw unhealthy foods and snacks from supermarket entrances and check-outs, easing the pressure on parents to cave in to pester power and buy sugary or salty treats to hush their children while they struggle to complete the weekly shop.
The KM Charity Team’s Walk on Wednesday, in contrast, uses pester power for more positive outcomes.
The scheme’s competitive element ‑ with pupils competing for the Green Class of the Week trophy and prizes that include visits to visitor attractions and storytime sessions with celebrities ‑ inspires children with a determination to make more healthy activities part of their daily routine.
So yes to government backing for school green travel initiatives, and yes again to using the formidable might of pester power to promote health and social good.
Find out more about the government’s child obesity strategy at www.gov.uk/government/news/new-measures-announced-to-halve-childhood-obesity-by-2030
And learn more about the KM Charity’s Walk to School initiatives at www.kmcharityteam.co.uk/walktoschool