All 1,100 girls and their teachers from Newcastle High School for Girls will take part in a walk from their school in Jesmond to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and back on Friday March 11 to raise money to educate girls safely around the world.
The girls, aged 3 -18 years old, will be joined on the 10km walk by over 100 children from other partner schools including St Cuthbert’s High School, Richardson Dees and West Denton Primary.
The fundraising initiative is part of Plan UK’s charity ‘World Wide Walk’ which will see over 40,000 people stride out to raise money. Plan UK is part of Plan International, one of the world’s leading children’s charities.
Together, the charity walkers will cover a distance of 44,000k, equivalent to walking the circumference of the world. Plan UK works for safe education, disaster relief and girls’ rights across Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Over the past two years, Newcastle High has raised £20k from two sponsored walks. This year they hope to add another £10k to the total, which will be used to help girls worldwide receive quality education free from violence.
The 10k distance is symbolic, as it is the average distance girls in developing countries have to walk to get water each day even before they can consider going to school.
The sponsorship money raised will help fund Plan’s work with some of the poorest children around the world and help them fulfill their potential, as well as raising awareness about the educational and social struggles many girls face.
Every day, girls living in the world’s poorest communities are denied the chance to go to school due to poverty, violence and discrimination. 47% of girls say they do not feel safe on the way to school because of threats, fear or physical or sexual abuse on the journey.
Hilary French, Headmistress of Newcastle High School for Girls and vice president of the Girls’ School Association, has been a Plan supporter for several years and last year (2015) visited two education projects launched by the charity in Uganda.
Commenting on the walk and the work of Plan, Hilary said: “The lives and opportunities for our girls and those in Uganda are poles apart but their aspirations are the same. As a school we have adopted Plan UK as one of our chosen charity because its work strikes a chord with our school and its values. Creating opportunities and offering a safe and nurturing environment where thousands of girls can learn is our aim for our school and our work with Plan. We hope that we can help girls be safe and receive an education which will make a huge difference to their lives.”
One of Newcastle High School’s younger walkers, Connie Hayward, aged 11, said: “The 10km walk represents the amount of effort made by some girls in less fortunate countries every day before they even get to school. Not only does it make us think about these girls’ worlds, it also helps us raise money for their cause. Every girl has the right to an education.”
Newcastle High School’s Head Girl, Zoya Zaman, 18, has been leading on the organisation of the walk for what she describes as ‘an unquestionably worthwhile cause’. She said: “Having been to Kenya this summer I was able to see gender inequality to a very scary and shocking degree. Girls in particular, face barriers to education every single day; and the long and dangerous journey to school is simply one of them. Often in the UK we take our education for granted; we are surrounded by so many fantastic opportunities that it can be easy to forget about the bigger picture. Walking 10k in support of girls around the world who are deprived of these opportunities, starts a conversation about rights for children across the globe.”