Primary school pupils from schools all across the Causeway Coast and Glens got both creative and active recently, as 19 schools took part in the Sustrans ‘Message in a Bottle’ challenge.
Pupils from St Brigid’s and Knockhollet, Ballymoney were given a bicycle water bottle and placed an active travel-themed message to another school, along with a small gift.
Emma Keenan, Sustrans Schools Officer, then cycled over 140 miles between schools over three days, collecting and passing on the ‘Messages in a Bottle’. Pupils were encouraged to get active as well, and over the three days, hundreds of schoolchildren walked, cycled and scooted their way to school.
St Brigid’s Acting Head Teacher Louise McNally said: “We have had a great year with the Active School Travel programme, and we are seeing changes in how our pupils travel to school.
“More children are walking, scooting and cycling regularly, and we are seeing less congestion around the school gates at key times. Message in a Bottle was a really fun way to conclude the years’ activities; it is good to connect with other schools in the area that are also involved in the Active School Travel programme, and we hope we can develop those relationships further.
“Active school travel is becoming part of the culture of our school, and we are really looking forward to building on our achievements with another year of the Active School Travel programme.”
Emma Keenan added: “I’ve been so amazed by the creativity of pupils, and the quality of the messages they produced. We’ve had video messages, musical powerpoints, poems, songs, bunting, and even a rap!
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“All of the messages have focused on active travel to school – each participating school has been engaged in the Sustrans Active School Travel programme for the past year, and it has been wonderful to see how much children, staff and parents are getting involved. We are seeing travel habits changing in many schools, as children become more active on their school journey. It’s great for their physical health, and as kids ditch the car and take to their feet or wheels, it’s great for the local community and the environment. The Message in a Bottle challenge really captured that, and gave the kids a chance to express how much they have learned through the programme.”