Blackburn with Darwen Council has joined forces with a charity to encourage more children to walk to school.

The authority has partnered with Living Streets to take part in its Walk to School Outreach, programme known as WOW.

For 90 years the organisation has promoted walking and in its early days campaigned to get the UK’s first zebra crossings and road speed limits.

During this academic year, nine primary schools in Blackburn with Darwen will participate in WOW, the charity's walk to school challenge.

It sees pupils record how they get to school on the WOW travel tracker and those who walk, wheel, cycle or scoot are awarded a monthly WOW badge.

On average, WOW schools see a 23 per cent increase in walking rates and a 30 per cent reduction in car journeys to the school gate.

Walking to school provides children with a multitude of benefits, such as much needed exercise, while also reducing traffic congestion around schools during the morning and afternoon, which makes it safer for children and also improves air quality.

The charity works with schools to tackle the barriers that prevent families choosing to walk to school, such as unsafe walking environments.

Katherine Holcroft, head of major projects at Living Streets, said: "It’s fantastic to partner with Blackburn with Darwen Council to help more pupils enjoy the health and happiness benefits of walking to school.

"Fewer cars at the school gates means cleaner air, safer streets and less congestion for the whole community.

"We know that many families are put off walking because their local streets aren’t up to scratch.

"This new partnership will also allow us to find out what’s stopping people from walking and work to find solutions, so walking becomes a more attractive choice."

Cllr Julie Gunn, Blackburn with Darwen Council's education boss, said: "This is a fantastic initiative to improve the health and wellbeing of young people and it encourages children to walk to school and become healthier.

"Walking to school has a positive impact on the environment and it’s important to educate young people about the benefits of walking to school more and how it can improve their wellbeing."

Cllr Jim Smith, the authority's environment boss, said: "It is important for families to encourage their children to walk to school more, there are so many benefits from walking to school including the fact that it’s better for the environment.

"It is our goal to achieve less pollution across the borough and by joining the Living Streets’ Walk to School Outreach programme, this will make a difference and make a positive contribution to the environment.