YOUNGSTERS from Ashton Hayes Primary School are taking a step in the right direction by walking to school at least once a month in a bid to reduce congestion outside the school gates.

The Walk on Wednesday (WOW) initiative, headed by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Safe and Sustainable Travel team, has been introduced to participating schools throughout the borough, and involves children meeting teachers, parents and road safety officers and walking to their schools on foot.

The project is part of the Sustainable Mobility In Learning and Experience (Smiles) programme, which offers help and support to boost the number of pupils travelling to school using modes of transport other than the car.

After their walk, the pupils receive a Smiles sticker, mug and other Smiles goodies from road safety officers as an incentive to keep up the good work.

Cllr Lynn Riley, executive member for community and environment, said the project has been designed to help each school community become ‘healthier, safer and greener’.

“The WOW initiative promotes walking as an alternative to using the car,” she added.

“As part of the package of green travel measures offered through the Smiles programme, we are encouraging parents to leave the car at home and use alternative ways to get to school.

“Ashton Hayes is one of six primary schools who have joined forces with us to promote more sustainable ways to travel to school and I am delighted to see teachers, parents and pupils working hard to find alternative ways to get to school.”

The council also joined forces with European partners last year to challenge schools across the European Community to adopt more sustainable modes of transport to and from local schools.

The Smiles initiative links with six schools across the borough.

They are Ashton Hayes Primary, Guilden Sutton Church of England Primary, Upton Heath Church of England Primary, Hartford Manor Community Primary, Belgrave Primary and Chester Catholic High Schools.

All are now working with London schools and European partners from Spain, Sweden and Ireland.

Cllr Riley added: “Through the Smiles programme, we are offering a free tailor-made package of green travel measures, including events, pupil and parent incentives, increased walk to school days and Bikeability training.”