Appeal to recruit army of ‘walking champions’ to help get Norwich fit
09:53 20 March 2014
‘Walking champions’ are being sought to encourage people in Norwich to get fit on their feet, as part of a £228,000 public health scheme.
The attempt to get people to abandon their cars and to use Shanks’s pony - walking - to get around has been funded by Department of Health cash.
Bosses at Norwich City Council hope that more than 30,000 people across the city will take part in the Walk Norwich initiative over the next year-and-a-half.
As part of the fitness drive, there will be up to 25 Norwich-based health walks, overseen by national charity Living Streets.
And the search is on to find volunteers - known as City Walking Champions - who will lead the walks and spread the message to the community that walking can be wonderful.
The city health walks are due to get under way at the start of May with two to three walks each week, on weekdays, evenings and weekends.
Dan Harris, from Living Streets, said: “We’re delighted to be playing such a big part in this excellent initiative. Walking makes such a difference to our health and wellbeing, yet so many people are simply not walking enough.
“Strengthening the voice of the pedestrian, and embedding these initiatives in communities will make a huge difference to the people of Norwich.
“It’s a very exciting time for all concerned and a great opportunity for members of the public to become City Walking Champions.”
The walking champions will be given walk leader training and special events, such as monthly champions’ breakfasts, will help make sure their knowledge and experience of local neighbourhoods will benefit the programme.
They will also get the chance to receive a Royal Society for Public Health qualification.
The council stressed the City Walking Champions do not have to be people who are extremely physically active. They say they could be older people or young parents, but the key thing is that they regularly walk and would like to see more people walking.
Mike Stonard, city council cabinet member and spokesman for the Walk Norwich project, said: “With people leading such busy lives it can be difficult to make time for the simple things in life such as regularly taking walkable journeys on foot rather than jumping in the car.
“But by introducing this one change people can begin to enjoy all sorts of benefits including health improvements, more opportunities to socialise and the chance to help the environment by cutting carbon emissions.”
Walk leader training days will take place at The Norman Centre in Bignold Road, Mile Cross from 10am until 3pm on Thursday next week and at the Open Academy in Heartsease from 12.30pm until 5.30pm on Saturday, April 5.
For more information about the walk leader training days contact Mel Brown by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07766 259999.
For more information about the Walk Norwich programme email email@example.com
• What do you think of the Walking champions initiative? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.