Staffordshire school children are leading a new campaign to help reduce air pollution outside their schools.
Encouraging parents and children to opt for more sustainable travel and encouraging drivers parking outside schools to turn off their engines are amongst the activities to help improve air quality and raise awareness.
Over the next two years, the Air Aware Staffordshire campaign hopes to work with around 25 schools in priority areas, engaging with over 8,000 pupils and 1,500 parents.
Speaking about the campaign, Helen Fisher, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Transport and Highways, said:
“We know that air pollution, especially from vehicles on some of our most congested main roads can cause many health issues and it’s important we do everything we can to tackle it.
“Improving air quality, particularly near schools is one of our priorities and by working with pupils and parents we hope to help to raise everyone’s awareness of the small, easy things we can all do to reduce air pollution and help us all breathe easier.
“For example by walking, scootering or cycling to school or using a ‘park and stride’ we can improve our health through exercise, and limit air pollution all at the same time. And by asking drivers to switch off their engines when parked up, we hope to make an even bigger difference. Idling is often the biggest contributor to air pollution outside schools – just a minute of idling can fill 150 balloons with exhaust fumes containing harmful chemicals. So if you have to drive on the school run, switch off when you drop off. This small change will make a big difference.”
Heath Hayes Primary Academy in Cannock are one of the schools taking part in the campaign.
Amy Fidler, Headteacher at the school said:
“The children are really excited about the campaign and are determined to make a difference.
“They’ve already been raising awareness of the health risks of air pollution and last term ran a number of initiatives which helped to reduce pollution outside the school by 20% which was excellent. This term they will also be encouraging drivers to turn their engines off when parked up but they have loads more ideas too.”
Staffordshire County Council is one of 16 local authorities nationally to receive funding from the Government for improvement work and is working with its districts and boroughs, as well as Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Highways England. The campaign will run until at least the summer of 2020.
It is estimated that around 400 deaths per year are attributable to poor air quality in Staffordshire.
Some of the schools taking part in the campaign include:
Hassell County Primary School – Newcastle
St Wulstans Catholic Primary – Newcastle
Ellison Primary – Newcastle
St. Margaret’s – Newcastle
St Thomas Aquinas – Stoke
Gladstone Primary – Stoke
Heath Hayes – Heath Hayes
Willows – Lichfield
St Thomas – Kidsgrove
People can find out more about the small things they can do to help them travel differently one day a week at http://airaware.doingourbit.info and pledge to switch off when they drop off at http://Iwillnotidle.doingourbit.info