Ten primary schools in Lambeth are helping children plan their school routes to reduce exposure to poor air quality, as part of the Air-mazing Journeys project.
Delivered by Sustrans, the project aims to help children, parents and teachers learn about air pollution and how to build walking, cycling and scootering into their school journey.
Activities include competitions to walk, cycle or scooter to and from school, coffee mornings and assemblies as well as walks during which children learn about 'clean air' routes and look for signs of air pollution.
Children also measured levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) around school premises; eight out of the ten participating schools have reported results higher than the EU legal limit of 40 µg/m3.
Programmes that will benefit children and older people
We were chosen by the Lambeth Council to deliver the six-month Air-mazing Project in October 2016, following the Greater London Authority’s announcement that 32 schools in the borough were among those exposed to high levels of NO2.
Air pollution particularly affects children and older people because of their age as well as those with existing respiratory conditions. We have a key role to play in delivering programmes that improve air quality.
Solutions to improve air quality
Rachel White, Senior Policy and Political Adviser for Sustrans said:
“The Air-mazing Journeys project is a great starting point to empower children, parents and teachers to take control of air pollution through hands-on activities and learn how to build cycling, walking or scooting to school into their lives.
"Walking and cycling can be part of the solution to improve the air in the UK. And with road transport responsible for 80% of the pollution where legal limits are being broken there has never been a more important time to shift short journeys away from cars.
"We urge local authorities and schools in London, and beyond, to follow suit and actively promote the benefits of sustainable travel and help parents and pupils switch."
Mr Hoosen Randeree, Headteacher at the Orchard Primary School, which participates in the project said:
“The Air-mazing Project has been a wonderful initiative for all our pupils and parents at the Orchard Primary.
"Through a range of fun-filled learning activities the children have become more aware of the impact of air pollution upon our environment and activities they could undertake in order to make a positive difference to the world around them.”
We are part of the Healthy Air Campaign, which is calling for a new Clean Air Act that will tackle the sources of modern air pollution, such as diesel, and accelerate the shift to zero emissions transport.
Royal College of Physicians (2016) Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution. Report of a working party. London: RCP