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The new initiative will promote a low-carbon healthy lifestyle for the youngest in Genk

Genk offers virtual bucks to kids who walk or bike to school

Genk offers virtual bucks to kids who walk or bike to school

The new project aims to reduce emissions from mobility, while offering incentives for both kids and parents to choose a less carbon-intensive commute

Recently, the Belgian city of Genk announced the start of a new programme aimed to promote more sustainable mobility and a healthier lifestyle for children in schools. Local authorities have created a platform that will reward kids for walking or biking to school with a virtual currency that they can later use to pay in libraries or sporting facilities.

The programme will involve the close cooperation between city officials, schools, parents and businesses creating its own eco-system. Furthermore, it is being spearheaded by local Alderman of Mobility Karel Kriekemans in a push to reduce CO2 emissions from transport, as the platform will show users how much they have reduced their carbon footprint.

Virtual cash for real-world change

The platform is called ‘Buck-e’ and is the essential link between all stakeholders in the multifaceted projects. The cycle starts with schools applying to be part of it, after that each parent can register and receive a sensor that is later attached to the child’s backpack.

The sensor tracks the distance the child has travelled by bike or walking but, importantly, it does not track location. When the child goes to school, a special scanner registers the data from the device attached to the backpack.

Based on the distance, students will receive virtual city coins. They can then be exchanged for goods and services with local merchants that have registered at the Buck-e platform. These include libraries, shops, swimming pools. It is important to note that children cannot use the virtual currency in any store. This allows the city to curate vendors and services on the basis of their child friendliness.

The platform will also allow people to view their carbon emissions. In an interview for the VRT, a Flemish news site, Alderman of Mobility Karel Kriekemans, explained that this project aims to create a ‘both-and’ situation, providing benefits to everyone included in the chain.

He continued by saying that the aim of the programme goes beyond getting people out of their cars and tries to push for a more sustainable environment and a healthier lifestyle for the youth of Genk.

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