Charity says school-walk schemes hold obesity key
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).
Aldington Primary School launched its walking bus in 2013