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The Benefits of Walking to School

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It’s Walk to School Week from the 21st to 25th May, and we want to encourage you to get out of the car and walk with your children to school. Here’s our 5 top reasons for walking:

1. Road Safety

Use the walk to school to teach your children about road safety. Skills they learn now will be invaluable for the rest of their lives.  The school run would also be safer for everyone if there were fewer car traffic around schools. Axa have published a report drawing on over six years’ data which showing 85,814 UK child injuries on roads within a 500m radius of schools, the equivalent of 1,190 a month.

2. Community

It’s better for your community. Fewer cars mean less pollution, less congestion and reduced parking problems around the school. According to Living Streets organisation their annual survey shows where 70% of primary school children in the 1970s used to walk to school, today that figure is 48%, the lowest ever. Such a decline impacts on children’s health, air quality, traffic congestion and road safety. By contrast 67% of Dutch children either walk or cycle to school. The amount driven by car in Holland is just 4%!

3. Health

Childhood obesity is rising fast and children need at least an hour of exercise each day. Why not walk to school to tackle those issues? The benefits of walking are seen as follows:

  • Building strong bones and muscles.
  • Decreasing the risk of obesity.
  • Lowering risk for diabetes and metabolic disease.
  • Lowering risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Improving mental health

After a good cardiovascular workout, studies show children who arrive at school are more alert, focused and perform better in their academic education. Those driven to school have poorer concentration levels and over a three year period have been shown to be as much as 6 months behind academically. Exercise helps our brains make better use of oxygen thereby reducing mental fatigue and sharpen your thinking. 

4. Cost

You’ll spend less on petrol. When the car’s engine is cold it is less efficient so short journeys to school and back are particularly costly. One in three children driven to school live less than a mile from their school.

5. Time

Walking to school could save you time. Have your measured it? By the time you’ve loaded your car, driven and parked, walking could be just as quick – or even quicker. If your school runs a walking bus then you can wave goodbye to your children from a nearby safe location, saving valuable minutes in the morning.

There’s more information about the benefits of walking to school on the Living Streets website. And, it’s not just about walking to school, May is National Walking Month, and we fully support the Walk This May campaign.

 

 

Stay safe in the sun

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We had some fantastic weather a couple of weekends ago and it looks like it will be back for this Bank Holiday Weekend, so we’re sure you’ll be out enjoying the sunshine.

Even though it’s spring, the sun now is as strong as it is in August so we hope you’re taking the right precautions for your children.

Here’s a reminder of some sun safety tips for your little ones.
• Encourage children to play in the shade, especially between 11 am and 3 pm when the sun is strongest. Keep babies younger than six months out of the sun altogether.
• Loose cotton clothes are best. Try and cover up as much of their skin as you can and encourage them to keep hats on
• Regularly apply high factor sun cream, especially after swimming. Don’t forget shoulders, neck, noses, and tops of feet! Make sure your sunscreen offers good UVA and UVB protection
• Look for sunglasses that meet the BSEN 1836:2005 British Standard and carry the CE mark.
Enjoy the weather safely!

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street gives his backing to the Conies

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Mayor Andy Street formally gave his support to us today at an event organised by Living Streets.

We all visited Glebefields Primary School to find out more about their Walking to School project. 

Talking about the benefits of walking to school, Mayor Andy Street said: “It’s a good way to start the day…it keeps cars off the road, so better air quality”.  He had a copy of our latest journal for schools and also commented: “The Conies Journal is a really great step forward in road safety for youngsters. There are very practical tips in this journal so I’d definitely recommend it.”

Fay Goodman, our founder, said: “What a fantastic morning, it was amazing to be with a group of people who care so passionately about children’s safety on their way to and from school.  We’re grateful to all our supporters for their help.  We’re currently delivering The Conies road safety journals to many local schools and hope to be able to print many more if we can find more businesses or donors to support our work.“

Living Streets are the UK charity for everyday walking.  Their work closely overlaps with ours; educating and encouraging parents and children to be safe on the school run.  A generation ago, 70% of us walked to school – now it’s less than half.  Living Streets want to reverse this decline. They want children to be energised and empowered, and to make walking to school their natural choice.  We completely agree with that aim.

You can see more about our morning in this video:

 

Keeping Children Safe Online

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We’ve written a Conies poem for children on Safer Internet Day

Stay safe and play – it’s better than the internet any day!

The Internet is fun – now and then

But watch your eyes and take a break

When we are tired we can make a mistake

Be careful who you talk to when on line

Never give your details and take your time

To check you are safe and check what to do

Making a mistake is easy to do

Remember fresh air is what we all need

To help our lungs be healthy and breathe

Look after your body, mind your eyes

And never let anyone on the internet take you by surprise!

 

We want to help you keep your children safe online as well as when they’re out and about. That’s why The Conies are supporting Safer Internet Day 2018 on 6 February.

With the development of internet-connected toys and the use of tablets by pre-school children, it’s important to be able to support safe internet use for your children.

Here’s the Conies top tips for internet safety, taken from the very useful NSPCC site, UK Safer Internet Centre and other sources:

  1. Keep mobiles and tablets safe to use. All these devices have settings menus that allow you to manage your child’s use of them. It’s particularly important to restrict location and sharing controls, to manage what information your child may unwittingly share. Watch this video from the NSPCC for more information.
  2. Use the settings on your home broadband to restrict access to age-inappropriate content. Many providers offer free filters to apply to your system that will restrict the types of sites that can be accessed as well as the time of day that certain devices can access the internet. The four big providers (sky, BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have produced a handy video guide to take you through the process. Remember these won’t apply if you are using public Wi-Fi or at other people’s homes.
  3. Talk to your child regularly. This is often the best way to keep them safe online. Discuss and agree the boundaries and timing around internet access. Go through the apps they use and make a list of them together. There are lots of resources to help you, including e-books from the UK Safer Internet Centre to read with your child and this guide from the NSPCC on starting the conversation.
  4. Know your channels. Older children may use a range of social networks and games to keep in touch with friends. NSPCC Net Aware have a handy online guide to explain a range of social media and game sites. https://www.net-aware.org.uk/
  5. Finally, remember that there are many other ways to keep children entertained. How about the great outdoors? The National Trust is a great place to start for advice on activities for your family that gets them off a screen and into the fresh air. Check out their advice here If you are local to us in the Birmingham area, here’s some fantastic ideas for free things to do.
home safety at christmas

Have a safe Christmas

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Children’s safety at Christmas is something that we’re thinking about at Conies.  Many of us will be travelling to relatives’ or friends’ homes over the festive break and here’s our top Christmas safety tips if you’re away from home for a few days.

1. Get there safely — As a road safety organisation this is bound to be top of our list. Make sure your car seat is correctly fitted for the journey – a worrying 70 percent of children travel in incorrectly fitted seats according to government figures. Once you’ve arrived, stay alert, if you get lifts with someone else, make sure that any journeys in different cars are safe. Always fit the seats properly, taking time to check them. Remember that not all seats fit in all cars, and if you need to put a rear-facing car seat in the front passenger side, you must turn off the front air bags. Consider activating the rear child locks, people who don’t travel regularly with children in their car aren’t likely to have them switched on.

2. Guard against burns and scalds — Visiting a different home over Christmas may mean you having to re-assess the risks. Scalds are the fourth highest cause of hospital admission for under-fives, with hot drinks causing most of the incidents and bath scalds being the most serious. Different kitchen layouts could mean higher risks of hot pans falling from cookers. Radiators, kettles and hair straighteners can also be dangerous for young children. Make sure the festive candles are all extinguished at night and keep lighters and matches out of harm’s way.

3. Suffocation and strangulation — Tragically, this is the leading cause of accidental death in children under five. A different home may present new dangers such as blind cords, and temporary sleeping arrangements need to be safe from risks of suffocation from pillows or sheets. Remember to keep nappy bags away from young children.

4. Poisoning — Four thousand young children under five are admitted to hospital each year following a poisoning incident. Visiting a different home may mean a quick check around to make sure things are safe. Move chemicals out of accessible cupboards, and make sure medicines are out of reach – this is the cause of seventy percent of poisoning accidents.. New toys mean new batteries, so watch out for button batteries which are dangerously tempting for babies and toddlers.

Your hosts may not be used to having children in the house, but a quick check around your temporary home will mean you can enjoy the festivities happily and safely – Merry Christmas!

snowman stay safe in the snow

Mr SnowCone’s Cold Weather Advice

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We’re always working hard to keep children safe and as the weather has been so chilly lately and is forecast to be again, Mr SnowCone has come up with his top ten tips to keep you safe in the cold weather.

  • Always wear suitable footwear, make sure you have good grips on boots or wellies for the snow!
  • Wear warm clothing, including lots of layers. The more comfortable you are, the less likely you are to be distracted and can concentrate on your surroundings. We love woolly hats!
  • Make sure your scarf is kept short so you can’t trip over it.
  • Wear something Hi-vis and your Conies snap band so you can be seen in bad weather or on dark evenings.
  • Cross at traffic lights and zebra crossings especially in bad weather where drivers may have limited visibility. At least if they can’t see you clearly then they can see the lights
  • Walk towards the traffic and away from the kerb
  • Stay close to your trusted adult and hold hands
  • Never use your bike, skateboard or scooter in the snow or on icy pavements
  • Never slide on the pavement as it makes it more slippy and dangerous for other children and adults.
  • Never, ever walk on frozen lakes or ponds, you don’t know how thick the ice is.

Snow can be really good fun, if you make sure you stay warm and safe.

High note for Child Road Safety

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We’ve struck a chord with one of the UK’s leading  recruitment groups as the nation celebrates Road Safety Week (November 20-26).

Midlands-based Pertemps Network Group has matched the money raised by the charity from busking and other musical fundraising events across Europe to the tune of £10,000.

The brainchild of Fay Goodman, Director of Birmingham road safety organisation DriveSafe & StaySafe, our Conies are an animated family of traffic cones that take part in amusing and instructive adventures to help children improve their road safety.

Fay, who launched The Conies in a new Walking to School Journal trialled successfully across a number of Birmingham primary schools this year, aims to make the characters as much of a role model in safety education as the Green Cross Code man and Tufty the Squirrel were in their day.

Tim Watts, Lifetime President of Pertemps, presented a giant cheque for £10,000 to Fay to support her efforts in promoting an initiative that matches his company’s health and safety ethos.   

Fay joined special guest artist Mohinder Singh, a tabla player who performed recently with Take That, violinist Pete Harley and The Celturian on The Conies fundraising tour.

Fay, who is also a world-leading martial artist, said: “We used a mystical fusion of 4,000-year-old tabla rhythms by Mohinder and 400-year-old Japanese sword kata, as well as a Tessan dance (a war dance using fans), to provide a dramatic and rewarding show that thrilled our audiences.”

Tim Watts, also a Conies Ambassador, said: “Pertemps are proud supporters of The Conies. This fantastic charity works to raise road safety awareness and helps to save the lives of children. Fay works extremely hard to organise fun and different events to raise funds for the charity and I am pleased to be able to help out such a brilliant cause.”

Fay Goodman said: “I am delighted by this generous donation which will help turn our ambitious plans to reality, and I hope that other high profile companies will follow this wonderful lead.  It is devastating to hear of a child being seriously injured or, worse, killed – and essential that we do all we can to help children and guide their parents and other adults in all dangerous environments. This is particularly pertinent as we acknowledge Road Safety Week 2017.”

Fay added: “A second pilot of our highly successful Walking to School Safety Journal will be distributed to schools in Aston, Nechells and Newtown during January 2018.   I am thrilled that The Conies are taking off so successfully and engaging with children from the age of 4 upwards.  We may have only just started but we are ready to take on the world!”

 

Supporting Speed Down Save Lives

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This year’s Road Safety Week campaign is Speed Down, Save Lives, and the Conies is giving it our full support.

When you read the stats, you’ll understand why.

  • Road crashes are the second biggest killer of young people aged five to 19
  • More than five children are seriously hurt or killed every single day on British roads. 
  • Most incidents involving children occur when they are walking home from school. 
  • Children under 15 cannot judge the speed of approaching vehicles when they are travelling at speeds greater than 20mph, so may believe it is safe to cross when it isn’t. 

Speed is a crucial factor in the safety of pedestrians. Speed and stopping distances don’t increase at the same rate. Small increases in speed result in bigger increases in stopping distances. That’s why it’s so important for drivers to drive within speed limits and to keep to 20mph in residential areas. Even a 1mph cut in speed can reduce the chance of a fatal injury by 5 per cent.

As well as improving road safety, cutting speed also benefits the health and wellbeing of our children. Slower traffic makes people feel safer, which encourages more young people to walk and cycle. More children walking and cycling means fewer cars on the roads and lower pollution from vehicle emissions. More walking and cycling also means better health and helps prevent childhood obesity as well as diabetes.

To find out more about Road Safety Week visit http://www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk

Safety tips for Halloween and Bonfire Night

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Halloween Safety Tips

    • When carving your pumpkin, let your parents handle the sharp knife.
    • When trick or treating make sure you are wearing something bright and visible, maybe a glow in the dark skeleton costume!
    • Don’t go trick or treating without adult supervision,
    • Don’t talk to strangers and if someone approaches you, let a trusted adult know.
    • Stay on the pavement and when crossing the road be careful and look both ways.
    • Don’t eat any chocolate or sweets before being checked by an adult.
    • Be careful around lit Pumpkins.
    • Beware the ghosts and ghouls!

Bonfire Night Safety Tips

  • Always stand well back from the Bonfire
  • Never touch fireworks – let the adults handle them!
  • Stay well away from a firework after it has been lit.
  • Make sure you wear gloves when holding a sparkler and only use one at a time.
  • Keep your sparklers pointed away from you and anyone else.
  • Keep pets indoors, their safety matters too!

Five reasons we all need to do more to keep our children safe

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Our mission is to help keep children safe, particularly on their way to and from school. It’s news stories like these that make our work so important and why we all need to do more to keep our children safe.

Boy knocked over on the first day of school

Teenage cyclist killed in a bus crash

Boy, 6, and girl, 10, badly injured in road accidents

West Midlands Air Ambulance – Photo from Birmingham Mail

Toddler hit by car outside a Walsall Primary School

Schoolgirl injured after being hit by a car

These are all recent accidents and just a sample of the many that happen each year.  The most recent Government figures show that fatal accidents involving children are not reducing.

Please help us in our work to keep children safe.

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