Students kick off Kilkenny Walking Festival

It is said that one of the benefits of exercise is the immediate increase in energy levels, and this was certainly true for the secondary-school students who arrived energised on the Parade following their Smarter Travel school walk on Friday afternoon.

It is said that one of the benefits of exercise is the immediate increase in energy levels, and this was certainly true for the secondary-school students who arrived energised on the Parade following their Smarter Travel school walk on Friday afternoon.

The walk was part of a wider awareness campaign, which over the past few weeks saw Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership liaise with schools in Kilkenny city to run a poster and article competition, the theme of which was to highlight the benefits of active transport to school.

The walk on Friday highlighted the infrastructural developments in Kilkenny city that make it a safer place to walk and cycle, with the hope that more students will start thinking about walking and cycling to school. To date, Kilkenny Local Authorities have invested in infrastructural improvements including road, cycle and footpath improvements, new urban speed limits in the vicinity of schools and improved pedestrian crossings.

The findings to emerge from the first ever comprehensive study of active transport in the city, conducted in conjunction with the Waterford Institute of Technology in May 2011, showed that levels of walking for transport are particularly low in children compared to the 1980s. Only 32% of children in Kilkenny currently walk to school (compared with 45% nationally in the 1980s). Over 50% of children are driven to school and 13% take the bus.

A similar trend was seen in secondary school children with car being their most frequently used mode of transport. Worryingly, 15% of children didn’t spend at least 10 minutes walking for transport on any of the last seven days prior to completing the survey. Also, girls were less likely to walk or cycle for transport.

Caitriona Corr, development officer with Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership, thanked all the teachers who got behind the campaign and said that “KRSP look forward to working with secondary schools in Kilkenny city over the next few years to promote a shift in school transport modes. Congratulations to all those who took part and KRSP look forward to seeing some of the posters, articles and logos in future campaigns.”

The five winners received bicycles and helmets sponsored by KRSP and Kilkenny Local Authorities. Cllr Malcolm Noonan oversaw proceedings on the day and prizes were presented by Mayor David Fitzgerald and Aine Connery, who recently returned home with the Irish women’s hockey team.

This was one of the first events in the Kilkenny Walking Festival. For more information, see www.kilkennywalkingfestival.ie.