Primary school children in the area celebrated Clean Air Day yesterday (20 June), a nationwide campaign to help reduce pollution and improve air quality.
The pupils, from West Road Primary School, Moorends, benefited from agreed road closures in the area to walk, scoot and cycle their way to class with their friends and parents.
Youngsters took advantage of a variety of activities, some of which involved the use of bicycles as a form of active travel, taking part in ‘learn to ride classes’ and riding the ‘virtual velodrome’. The presence of a ‘smoothie bike’ which blends fruit as users pedal ensured no one went hungry.
There was a serious element to the day though, with it being revealed that, according to cleanairday.org.uk, it is thought that up to 36,000 deaths each year in the UK are caused by air pollution.
It is said that as children are still developing their organs and immune systems, they can be especially vulnerable to dirty air and water and are also often closer to sources of air pollution, like car exhausts.
Air pollution can play a part in causing asthma for some children. For children who already have asthma, being exposed to more air pollution can increase how bad their symptoms are and how often they have chronic symptoms.
Councillor Nigel Ball, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure and Culture, said: “Travelling to school in an active way, whether this be walking, cycling or scooting is important for everyone. It’s a great way for children to meet their recommended daily exercise needs; it takes cars off the road which has a positive impact on the quality of air that we breathe. Not only this but walking and cycling are fun modes of transport and are a great way for families to spend quality time together.”
Adele Ward, School Business Manager at West Road Primary School, said: “Our children came to school on scooters and bikes, they walked with their parents but above all our entire road was closed to cars for the entire day.
“It was such a great day to be involved in; our children had lots of fun joining in with the activities down the street, and the parents commented that they felt safe bringing their children to school as there weren’t any cars on the road. We could hear the birds tweeting, and the children laughing – there wasn’t a car engine noise to be heard.
“Clean Air Day is only the beginning for West Road, next year I am planning on holding a huge street party. What a day to remember!”
There will be a lasting legacy at the school with the children able to take advantage of scooters and balance bikes for years to come, while a no idling banner and pupil-inspired artwork will serve as a reminder to all future generations about how keeping the air clean starts with small steps.