Central Bedfordshire schools take on virtual journey to Lapland

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Pupils across Central Bedfordshire are heading to Lapland to visit Santa, via a virtual journey that promotes walking, scooting and cycling to school.

The ‘Santa Challenge’ is an interschool competition that will run from Monday, November 26, until Friday, December 7, it is being funded by the council’s STARS project, and organised by sustainable transport charity, Sustrans.

Over 8,500 children across Central Bedfordshire have signed up to the ten day challenge which gives pupils the opportunity to learn more about the towns, cities, people and Christmas traditions of the countries they will visit on their journey.

Pupils and parents can accumulate miles each time they cycle, scoot or walk to school, and get double miles if a parent cycles too, the information will be gathered on a special record card.

The journeys will then be added up to see whether each school has covered the 2,000 miles needed to reach Lapland from Central Bedfordshire.

All pupils that take part could win a new bike, specially designed for children, and other prizes will be distributed to schools for teachers to give out to pupils who take part in the challenge.

Councillor Ian Dalgarno said: “It’s a humorous initiative that can bring serious benefits.

“As well as the health impacts of encouraging families to get more exercise by walking, cycling or scooting to school, it can also benefit the whole community by helping to reduce congestion, and therefore improving air quality.

“Children are advised to have some exercise everyday, and this challenge is a really fun and easy way to achieve this.”

Sustrans Schools and Communities Officer, Alister Barclay said: “Many schools made it to Lapland last year.

“Combining the miles from all the journeys made across Central Bedfordshire, we also travelled over four times around the world. This year, with a number of new schools joining in, we hope to get even further.

“Studies show that active travel to school boosts school test performance, and our surveys show that most children would prefer to get to school this way. We want to show that walking, scooting and cycling to school can be a year-round thing for everyone.”