Schools in Leicester have been celebrating Clean Air Day by making the most of traffic-free local streets.
Across the city, on Clean Air Day (16 June), Leicester City Council has worked with schools to close roads to through traffic and instead use the street space for games, artwork, cycle skills and a community tea party.
They were also supported by Sustrans, the charity that works to make it easier for people to walk and cycle.
At Judgemeadow Community College, in Evington, a section of Newhaven Road outside the school was closed, street art was created by students and games were played on the street. The college used drone photography to spell out the message ‘JM loves clean air’, and hosted a community tea party in their traffic-free space.
Herrick Primary School, in Rushey Mead, used street space on Lockerbie Avenue to create art, and held BalanceAbility cycle skills sessions for their younger pupils. St John the Baptist Primary, in Clarendon Park, used East Avenue for BalanceAbility and Bikeability sessions from the Leicester City School Sport & Physical Activity Network.
Sandfield Close Primary School, in Thurmaston, hosted sports and games on the street for all year groups, as well as in their school grounds, while Dovelands Primary, in Western Park, held an assembly and activities to promote active travel and their new ‘park and stride’ site for school run parking on nearby Western Park.
In April, Catherine Junior School, in Belgrave, saw efforts to promote active travel result in a fourth-place finish in a national Big Walk and Wheel competition, with 98% of all children arriving at school on foot, scooter or bike. The school followed this up with a full day of learning for Clean Air Day, celebrating active travel as well as exploring air pollution through the curriculum.
Denise Henderson, assistant principal at Judgemeadow Community College said: “This is the first time we’ve been involved in Clean Air Day and we’re proud to be the first secondary in the city to take part. Because we have so many students, we know that getting to and from school causes traffic, and we’re keen to work with the local community, parents, the city council and others to minimise the effects of the school run on our environment. Choosing active travel to get to school has a beneficial effect on air quality and on our students’ health and wellbeing, supporting our aims and ethos to have a positive impact on our local community.”
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transport, said: “Many adults nowadays will remember playing out in the street when they were young – and we can all remember how quiet the roads were during the pandemic. Nobody likes traffic on the roads, but we are all part of it. It’s important that those of us who can, use other means of transport to reduce congestion and leave the roads clear for those who really need to use a car to get around.
“Clean Air Day is a reminder to us all how beneficial – and fun – it is when streets are available for children to play in safely. Small changes like walking to school add up to have a big positive impact on our own wellbeing and on the environment, which is vital as we all work together to tackle the climate emergency.”
Clean Air Day is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign, bringing together communities, businesses, schools and the health sector. Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK. The World Health Organisation and the UK Government recognise that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today.
Find out more at actionforcleanair.org.uk/campaigns/clean-air-day
Find out more about the city council’s Air Quality Action Plan at: leicester.gov.uk/airquality