PARENTS can help raise children’s fitness levels by leaving the car at home.

The agenda at a special conference was topped by ways of reducing congestion every morning on the school run, at the same time raising childrens’ fitness levels by encouraging them to walk and cycle more.

The workshop at the Mansion House in Victoria Park focused on the benefits which innovative School Travel Plans would have for schools, pupils and the environment.

It’s claimed that, used effectively, School Travel Plans can achiever the following benefits.

> Cut congestion at the school gate, making the area safer, calmer and cleaner.

> Improve children’s health and fitness through walking and cycling.

> Improve concentration levels of children in the classroom through increased physical activity.

> Equip children with better road awareness, make them more familiar with public transport and their environment and make them safer on the roads and more independent.

> Give pupils an active role in school decision-making.

> Help support children, their parents and the wider community in making changes to the way they travel and work towards more sustainable living.

Schools with an active Plan can link them to other initiatives, such as Healthy Schools, Eco Schools and the Sustainable Schools Programme.

In St Helens 63 schools have adopted school travel plans, and the aim is to get all schools on board by the summer.