A group of children in Cramlington enjoyed a memorable walk to school last Thursday.
And the fun was not over because a special guest put on an engaging performance to weave the important sustainable travel message into famous stories from history.
Shanklea Primary School has worked extensively over the last few years to highlight the benefits of doing the morning journey by foot or other eco-friendly means.
And in partnership with the Go Smarter sustainable transport programme for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and Durham, it organised a special walk to school from the war memorial in Cramlington Village.
Pupils were joined by parents, grandparents and staff and they were encouraged to wear a favourite (fashionable or distinctive) hat to be seen and be bright on the imaginative journey to school.
The children at Shanklea have been participating in the Modeshift STARS initiative. Go Smarter officers and staff at Northumberland County Council help schools carry out projects for the national awards scheme established to recognise schools that have demonstrated excellence in supporting forms of sustainable travel.
To thank it for its efforts in reducing traffic by the school at peak times and as part of achieving bronze accreditation, the organisations arranged for historical actor Dave Cooper from Histrionics to lead the walk and then bring history to life during school assemblies on the same day.
Shanklea headteacher Helen Brown said: “There were about 75 of us in total on the walk and it was a great activity to have fun whilst highlighting an important issue.
“As well as entertaining the children and adults on the walk, Dave Cooper from Histrionics captivated us all with innovative and fun assemblies.
“We have taken a proactive approach to encourage more parents to enable their children to enjoy the health and social benefits of walking, cycling, scooting, or even roller-blading and skateboarding to school.
“This includes setting up five to 10 minute walking zones for parents who don’t live nearby. For example, they can park next to the Sainsbury’s store.
“Some parents and many of our staff still need to drive to school, but to further reduce parking in the housing estate by Shanklea, we now have car parks in different areas of the school.
“An outdoor area that was not being used is providing more storage for bikes. Nine of our pupils are travel ambassadors – they came up with the plans and have planted flowers and made signage.
“We’re aiming to achieve Modeshift STARS gold accreditation by the end of the term.
“We’re grateful for all the support we’ve received, particularly from Go Smarter adviser Emma Brown who has been working with us since September.
Go Smarter encourages everyone to think about changing their behaviour to use more sustainable ways of travelling and its two main strands of activity are Go Smarter to Work and Schools Go Smarter.
Shanklea and other schools across the county have also taken part in the programme’s Fancy Feet Whirly Wheels Challenge over the last couple of weeks that focuses on encouraging pupils to walk, cycle or scoot to school.
For more information about all of its initiatives, visit www.gosmarter.co.uk