‘I want my children to think “I can walk or cycle to get there”’
Before she discovered Warwick District Council’s Choose How You Move BetterPoints challenge, Carly would “always hop in the car, however long the journey”. “I was using it at least six days a week”, she says.
Carly has bipolar disorder and five herniated discs in her back. She found lockdown very challenging, managing her own health and her three children while confined to her home. When restrictions eased, Choose How You Move offered “a valuable incentive to get out and walk”.
“I like looking at my journey data to see how far I’ve been”, Carly says. “If I’ve done one-and-a-half miles in a day, for instance, I’ll want to do two miles the next day. It provides a healthy competition with myself.
“I enjoy seeing the points build up every week too. I’ve saved up to redeem for some Amazon vouchers. I’m using them to buy gift packs for the charity Barnardo’s and the local children’s centre. It isn’t money that I feel I’ve earned, so gifting it feels like the right thing to do.
“I have bipolar, so I experience down moments. Rather than being stuck at home lost in my own thoughts, it encourages me to get outside and interact with people, which really helps.”
Carly no longer takes her children to school and nursery by car, but walks instead. “I do three journeys a day on foot of about four miles in total”, she says.
“My eldest and I will go for a walk before school. We started off doing one circuit, but now we’re up to two and aiming for three. We enjoy it so much that we’ve started talking to the school about setting up a walking group.
She has even started to shop without the car. “My partner and I now walk into town rather than drive for shopping trips. We’ll get the bus back if it’s raining and we’ve got all the children with us!”
“As well as the mental benefits, it has made me physically fitter. I’ve got five herniated discs in my back. The extra walking has helped ease the pain a lot.
“We are a lot less stressed as a family in the mornings, as there is no more worrying about trying to find a parking space to drop the children off for school!
Carly’s new travel behaviour is rubbing off on her children, too. “They’re starting to realise you don’t need to rely on a car to travel. When they are older I want them to automatically think ‘I can walk or cycle to get there.”