YOUNGSTERS in Newport were joined by a Welsh Government minister on a walk to school yesterday.

Active travel minister Rebecca Evans visited Malpas Court Primary School to mark Walk to School Week and launch a new toolkit helping identify areas for improvement on walking routes to and from schools.

The scheme is run by charity Living Streets, which has been working for 85 years to increase the number of people walking rather than using cars or public transport.

It was launched after figures showed only 20 per cent of five to 15-year-olds were getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and one in three was leaving primary school overweight or obese.

The charity has warned issues such as traffic speeds, pavement parking and congestion can put parents off walking to school.

Speaking after the visit, Ms Evans said: “Walking to school is a great way for children and families to get active and stay healthy.

“Walking instead of driving can improve physical and mental health, reduce congestion and pollution and is a good opportunity for families to spend time together.”

Living Streets Cymru recently carried out reviews of walking routes around three primary schools, including Malpas Court, to identify issues deterring families from walking to school.

Since then improvements including repainting markings outside schools and litter picks have been carried out.

Living Streets’ Wales manager Rachel Maycock said: “Creating safe walking routes and encouraging more children to walk to school is vital if we are to successfully tackle high levels of inactivity and help our children develop healthy habits for life.

“We know that a lot of parents are put off walking to school because of high levels of traffic outside the school gates.

“The more of us walking to school, the safer conditions will be, so this week we’re asking families to give walking a go for Walk to School Week.”

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