Active travel on agenda for Sheffield primary pupils in bid to promote clean air around schools

Active travel has been on the agenda for primary children in Sheffield in a bid to promote a better quality of air around their schools.

Thursday, 20th June 2019, 4:54 pm

Youngsters from Nether Edge Primary School and Watercliffe Meadow Community Primary School, in Shirecliffe, made a stand against air pollution this morning as part of Clean Air Day, a first of its kind event to coincide with the city’s Move More Month.

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Both schools hosted a range of activities for the event, including an active travel breakfast, aimed at encouraging families to leave the car at home and move more on the journey to school.

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Glen Road, adjacent to Nether Edge Primary and Boynton Road, next to Watercliffe Meadow, were also closed between 8am and 9:15am, in a bid to stop idling engines outside the school gates and keep the children safe from busy traffic.

Last year, as part of their Clean Air Strategy, Sheffield Council banned motorists from leaving their engines running outside 20 Sheffield schools, including Nether Edge Primary, to protect children from pollution.

Work is already being undertaken by both schools to reduce the number of children being driven to school and the associated problems this brings.

At Nether Edge Primary, once the children arrived to school – most having walked, cycled or used their scooter – they were able to use the Move More hopscotch court and enjoy a healthy breakfast.

Following the morning’s activities, a whole-school assembly was held with a performance from the Green Top Circus, plus a showing of a support video from Paralympic cyclist Dame Sarah Storey.

Representatives from Sheffield City Council, South Yorkshire Modeshift STARS, the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and South Yorkshire Police were also in attendance along with residents, Clean Air Groups and Councillors.

Katie Hall, co-headteacher of Nether Edge Primary School, said: “We’re really keen on improving the air for children.

“We’re very much a school that goes the extra mile and we know that these children are our future so we want them to be fit, active and healthy. To be able to allow them to walk to school, safely and in a nice, safe environment is a great start to that.”

Nether Edge is one of a number of Sheffield schools looking to install a ‘green wall’ around the perimeter of its playground in tackling air pollution.

Nether Edge Primary School Governor Clive Belgeonne said: “There is a big problem with air pollution here, and in lots of areas in Sheffield around schools.

“It was very heartening to hear that Nether Edge have been linking up with other schools around this so that young people can see that yes, climate change is a big and worrying issue that is affecting us now, but we’re thinking about how we can monitor it and raise awareness in our local community.

“Young people can then feel empowered and aware they can make change.”

Lewis Dagnall, Cabinet Member for Environment, Street Scene and Climate Change said: “Air pollution is a scandal that our country is finally waking up to.

“Introducing cleaner vehicles in Sheffield is the first step towards clean air. But active travel, by foot or by bike, is always the best option for those who can.

“Air pollution is closely related to climate crisis – they’re both products of an unsustainable way of living. We have just over decade to achieve a transition to carbon neutrality, in order to avert catastrophic and irreversible climate change.

“The steps we’re taking to support clean vehicles are important first steps towards this.”