New programme to put walking at the heart of Scottish secondary schools

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School pupils walk out of a school building

A new project bringing together academics and young people to promote the benefits of walking is being developed thanks to new funding.

Researchers from the Universities of Stirling, Edinburgh and the Highlands and Islands and the charity, Paths for All, are being supported by the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) and Active Scotland to design and develop a walking programme for young people, by young people in Scotland.

The aim of the programme is to improve the health and wellbeing of young people by creating a culture of walking both in and around the school day. This programme will see young people participating in Step Count Challenges and leading walks for their peers while increasing awareness of the benefits of walking.

In 2022, the proportion of 13 – 15-year-olds meeting the physical activity recommendations was 65% for boys and 43% for girls. This new programme will be co-designed with young people and aims to empower pupils to be more active and healthier, whilst having confidence and enjoyment in the way they move and travel in and around school life.

Carl Greenwood, Senior Development Officer at Paths for All, said: “We’re passionate about making Scotland a walking nation and supporting young people to walk more every day is integral to the success of this. 

“We’re really excited to be working with the Knowledge Transfer Partnership, fantastic colleagues from Scottish universities, but more crucially with young people to co-design a programme that can get to the heart of embedding everyday walking into school life.” 

The KTP partnership consists of The Knowledge Transfer Partnership, The University of Stirling, The University of Edinburgh, The University of the Highlands and Islands and Paths for All.

The partnership aims to bring new skills and the latest academic thinking into practice to help deliver an innovative project for schools. The University of Stirling is recruiting an Associate to work on the project, who will be embedded within Paths for All and will aim to support the strategic development of the programme over 27 months, whilst developing new skills and gaining valuable experience of working within the third sector.

Simone Tomaz, Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the University of Stirling, said: “We are delighted to explore the best way to bring academic research and high school programme delivery together. 

“By working alongside young people, we believe we have the best chance of understanding young people’s access to and motivation for using walking to improve their health.”

Applications are open for the KTP Associate position until 11 March. To find out more about the role, and to apply, visit the University of Stirling’s ‘Jobs at Stirling’ webpage