Case study: Medway's walk to school challenge

Medway Council organised a Walk To School challenge in October 2021, piggy-backing the national enthusiasm for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) which was held in the UK.

The problem they faced

35% of carbon emissions in Medway are caused by transport. This reflects the wider issue in the UK where transport is the highest cause of harmful emissions.

Medway has 4 air quality management areas, all of which suffer from nitrogen dioxide from generated by vehicles.

Many people are reliant on privately-owned, fossil-fuelled cars as their primary form of transport. This fact needs to be addressed before meaningful progress can be made.

Like many local authorities, Medway want to challenge people to move towards cleaner, healthier forms of transport. Nowhere is this more important than around schools.

What did they do

The Medway Walk To School for COP26 challenge encouraged young people who were able, to walk to school during October 2021, whilst COP26 was taking place. The aim was to help normalise sustainable behaviour in the longer term.

There was also a challenge within schools to collectively walk 416 miles; the distance to Glasgow where COP26 was being held.

All schools who entered and walked the distance of 416 miles were entered into a prize draw, with a variety of sustainable prizes on offer. Prizes included a scooter pod, sponsored by Volker Highways, and class visits from the Kent Wildlife Trust, sponsored by Child Friendly Medway.


The schools walked a total of 13,860 miles, saving an estimated 5.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide (compared with the carbon produced by an average petrol car).

In 2022 Medway relaunched the challenge to support that year's COP27 event, which was held in Egypt: This time the schools collectively walked 17,665 miles!

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