A new active travel schools officer has been appointed to inspire more children, parents and teachers to enjoy the benefits of building a short walk or cycle into their daily commute.
The role is part of Government’s Active Travel Strategy which aims to get people to replace short car journeys with active travel and see cycling and walking to work or school as an everyday choice. This active travel schools officer will work with schools to educate children about the benefits and wider impact of active travel.
As part of the interview process candidates presented their ideas to children at Anagh Coar Primary School who then asked them how they would tackle the job. Following this Breeshey Harkin, a former secondary school teacher, was successful.
‘I’m really looking forward to starting this exciting role and working with all of the students, staff and parents to raise awareness of this scheme and the huge range of benefits it can have. Even small changes to everyday routine can have a massive impact, and I hope to encourage and support the children and adults to make those changes.’
Breeshey will work across the Island’s schools to promote the proven benefits active travel can have on physical health, emotional wellbeing and the environment.
Luke Anderson, headboy at Anagh Coar, was involved in the selection process, and said:
‘We were really impressed with all the candidates but Breeshey stood out.’
Children who walk, cycle or scoot to school from an early age have more road sense and an improved ability to travel independently and safely.
A 30 minute quick walk uses about 150 calories – the same as a slice of pizza and can reduce anxiety and stress.
Dr Alex Allinson MHK, Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, said:
‘We are delighted to appoint Breeshey to this important role and I thank the children of Anagh Coar for their help and involvement’
‘Travelling actively builds exercise into the daily routine and can increase the concentration of children. It is proven that there is a positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance and just 15 minutes exercise can significantly improve a child’s mood.’
Tim Baker MHK, Minister for Infrastructure, said:
‘Active travel to school wakes up the mind and body, helps to reduce congestion and pollution and improve safety around schools.’