A BARNSLEY school’s youngsters who have been praised for their trailblazing efforts in increasing their fitness - and curbing rising rates of childhood obesity through active travel - received a special visit last week.

South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard and active travel commissioner Ed Clancy OBE visited Goldthorpe Primary to hear from pupils about how they’re creating more opportunities for walking, wheeling and cycling in their community.( Mr Coppard and the Barnsley-born, three-time Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist were invited to an active travel lesson with Barnsley Council’s sport and physical activity team and pupils before participating in a RampUP session - giving young people the chance to get active by cycling and scooting on portable street ramps. ( “We’re building a happier, healthier Barnsley and that means giving our communities more and better choices about how to travel and stay active,” Mr Coppard said.

“We need to support children and young people to develop good habits at an early age.

“They need to be able to get to and from school healthily and safely.

“That’s what my ‘Year of Active Travel’ is about - creating more opportunities to move more and move differently.( “The RampUP project helps children and young people see and feel the benefits of cycling and scooting at school.

“It gives children in Barnsley the chance to take part in a fun and structured activity in their community, developing an interest in physical activity, encouraging inclusivity and building confidence in active travel from a young age.

“All of which ultimately contribute to healthier lives and a better future.”

NHS Digital figures show 760 of 2,885 year six pupils measured in Barnsley were classed as obese or severely obese in 2022/23.

It meant 26.3 per cent of ten and 11 year olds were in the highest two BMI categories as they prepared to leave primary school.

This was up from 25.5 per cent the year before and above pre-pandemic levels of 19.3 per cent in 2019/20, and ‘active travel’ to and from school is being lauded as a key factor in reducing rates.( Coun James Higginbottom, cabinet spokesperson for environment and highways, added: “Staying active is vital for our physical and mental wellbeing, so it’s fantastic to see so many children and young people making the most of the opportunities the RampUP sessions bring.

“It’s a creative way to engage them with cycling and scooting, combining practical and educational elements to teach them about active travel.( “We’re grateful to the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority for their support of our active travel activities.( “We’re continuing to invest in active travel so that it is at the heart of our communities, allowing people to walk and cycle on our fantastic network of off-road routes more frequently and to help support our ambition of a cleaner, greener and more sustainable Barnsley.” (