Central Bedfordshire Council encourages children to walk, scoot and cycle to school

Lower and primary school pupils across Central Bedfordshire are taking part in a Christmas challenge to travel virtually to Lapland, by counting up their walking, scooting and cycling journeys to school.

The challenge organised by Central Bedfordshire Council in partnership with sustainable transport charity Sustrans, will take place between Monday, December 2, and Friday, December 13, and aims to decrease the number of cars used on the school run.

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Almost 40 schools have already signed up to take part in this year’s challenge which also gives pupils the opportunity to learn about the towns, cities, cultures and Christmas traditions of the countries they visit along the way.

Using a record card, pupils and their teachers will monitor active travel trips to school. All journeys will then be combined with the goal of achieving 2,000 miles, the equivalent distance from Central Bedfordshire to Lapland.

One child will be drawn at random to win a brand-new lightweight Frog bike.

The challenge has been running for six years, and every year there has been an increase in the number of schools taking part.

During the challenge last year, 1,789 pupils in Central Bedfordshire completed all ten days of the challenge, with schools collectively travelling 99,370 active travel miles, which is the equivalent of over four times around the world.

Alister Barclay, Sustrans schools and communities officer, said: “The journey to school, even in winter, is a great opportunity to get moving, stay healthy and arrive at school energised and ready to learn.

“The majority of pupils live less than a mile from their school; a twenty-minute walk or 7-minute cycle.

"For some village schools, journeys can be longer, but we’re also counting those who park and stride or park and scoot.

"This limits congestion at the school gate, making roads around the school safer and less polluted, whilst also providing a fun way to encourage everyone to travel to school in an active way.”