Char­ity says school-walk schemes hold obe­sity key

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Helping Others -

Ash­ford’s prob­lem with childhood obe­sity could be tack­led if more chil­dren walked to school, says a Kent char­ity.

Last week we re­ported that fig­ures re­leased by the Health and So­cial Care In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre show al­most a fifth of 10 to 11-year-olds in Ash­ford are obese.

The KM Char­ity Team, which op­er­ates three walk-to-school schemes across the county, cur­rently in­volves 2,945 Ash­ford pupils.

Its chief ex­ec­u­tive says that if more schools, par­ents and pupils from Ash­ford area came on board its easy-to-use schemes, they could be­come in­creas­ingly ef­fec­tive tools in tack­ling the dis­trict’s childhood obe­sity epi­demic.

“We all know that reg­u­lar ex­er­cise is the key way to off­set weight gain lead­ing to obe­sity, and yet many chil­dren lead an in­creas­ingly in­ac­tive life­style,” said Si­mon Dolby.

“Our mis­sion is to com­bat this trend, of­fer­ing schools three easy-to-de­liver schemes to choose from: a daily Walk­ing Bus, a weekly Walk On Wed­nes­day (WOW) drive, or Ac­tive Bug for pupils who sim­ply walk as of­ten as they can.

“Last year, par­tic­i­pat­ing chil­dren in Kent walked 327,801 miles as an al­ter­na­tive to be­ing driven.” He added: “Some Ash­ford schools are al­ready ben­e­fit­ting their pupils with th­ese schemes, such as Ald­ing­ton Pri­mary School in the town and Char­ing Pri­mary School in the ru­ral area.

“We would re­ally en­cour­age other schools to recog­nise the im­por­tance of walk­ing, scoot­ing or cy­cling to school, which has been proven as an ef­fec­tive tool at pro­mot­ing ex­er­cise and com­bat­ing obe­sity, whilst pro­vid­ing pupils with the health­i­est pos­si­ble start to the school day.”

Mr Dolby pointed to re­search con­ducted by the Illi­nois Pub­lic Health In­sti­tute in the USA last year, show­ing that exer-

‘We all know that reg­u­lar ex­er­cise is the key way to off­set weight gain lead­ing to obe­sity’

cise prior to learn­ing im­proves brain func­tion, in­clud­ing at­ten­tion, un­der­stand­ing, mem­ory, and even re­duces sen­sa­tions of crav­ing or pain.

Ash­ford Spec­savers is a ma­jor spon­sor of the schemes. Store di­rec­tor Cather­ine McVick­ers said: “Spec­savers is very proud of our con­nec­tion to the KM’s Walk to School Cam­paign be­cause of its clear ben­e­fits to fam­ily health, as well as to chil­dren’s road-safety ed­u­ca­tion and the en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits it brings.”

Other spon­sors in­clude KCC, Baby Bel, Coun­trystyle, South­ern Wa­ter, 3Rs, Gold­ing Homes, Or­bit Group, Leeds Cas­tle, P&O Fer­ries and the Co-op­er­a­tive.

To find out more, visit www. kmwalk­toschool.co.uk or call­ing 0844 264 0291 (Lo-Call).

Pic­ture: Gary Browne

Ald­ing­ton Pri­mary School launched its walk­ing bus in 2013

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