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Chelmsford residents walk and cycle their way to better wellbeing this winter

15 Feb Chelmsford residents walk and cycle their way to better wellbeing this winter

Essex residents are walking and cycling their way to better wellbeing this winter – all thanks to the Stop.Swap.GO! 60 Day Challenge.

Developed by Essex County Council, Stop.Swap.GO! aims to encourage residents to swap daily vehicle travel for sustainable alternatives, such as walking and cycling.

The challenge rewards those who take part with a chance to win weekly prizes such as Amazon and Love2Shop e-vouchers or £1,000 to spend on cycling or walking accessories and equipment.

But for the hundreds of people who have already signed up, the biggest reward has been the positive effects on both their physical health and mental wellbeing.

This includes the Whiteside family from Braintree, who describe walking as an important part of their life.

In April 2017, Melanie and Richard Whiteside lost their youngest son, Jake, less than 10 months after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. The couple, along with their other son Scott, decided to raise money for the charity, CLIC Sargent, that supported the family with Jake’s illness. Along with their friends and family they have raised nearly £36,000 by taking part in a variety of sponsored walks:

Sadly, with many events cancelled during 2020 the family have tried other ways to keep their mind and body active.

Melanie said: “We settled on a walking challenge as Jake lost the ability to walk due his brain tumour. He was such a great kid who taught us what real strength looks like”.

“My husband and son both signed up to the Stop.Swap.GO! challenge first to keep up the training. Whilst Scott cycles to work every day, Richard works many miles away, so had to get his daily walks in either very early in the morning or later in the evening”.

Melanie, who describes herself as a ‘couch potato’, would normally take on the role of supporter or organiser of the charitable walking events. As Melanie works from home she was persuaded to sign up to the challenge and has since upped her activity by going for local walk most days as her ‘commute’.

“Getting out, even during the autumn and winter months, has made such a difference – and I’m even starting to walk further than ever before. I’ve found the walks a good way to get out with my sister or a friend and just have a chat and to check up with each other. I always get home from these walks feeling brighter. The support of our family and friends means so much to us and keeps us strong”.

Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Passenger Transport, said: “I was really heartened to hear of the incredible efforts the Whiteside family have gone to in memory of their youngest son and brother, Jake and the fact that they have found an activity that has not only helped them personally as a family, but also allowed them to give back by raising money for charity”.

“The family’s experience really embodies the whole purpose of the Stop.Swap.GO! 60 Day Challenge – to swap walking and cycling into your daily travel for better mental and physical health. I would encourage anyone who is looking for an opportunity to make a similar change to find out more about the challenge. It’s vital we take positive steps to look after ourselves and those around us, now more than ever.”

Anyone aged 13 and over can join the 60 Day Challenge and be in with a chance to win up to £50.00 Amazon or Love2Shop e-vouchers in weekly prize draws and those who record 60 consecutive daily trip diaries before March 2021 will be entered into the final Golden Ticket draw for a chance of winning £1,000 to spend on walking or cycling kit and accessories of their choice.