Primary schools across Manchester will be holding "School Street" road closures this Thursday ( 8 October), in celebration of national Clean Air Day
Seven schools, with a total of 2,500 pupils, are working with Manchester City Council to take part in this year’s School Streets scheme.
A School Street is a road outside a school with a temporary restriction on motor traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times. The temporary road closures will allow parents and children to have the freedom to walk or cycle safely in the streets at the beginning and the end of the school day, in a traffic-free environment.
The primary schools taking part are St Augustine’s CE Primary School, Monsall; St Margaret Mary, Charlestown; Cheetham C of E Academy, Cheeham Hill; Chorlton C of E; Our Lady's, Whalley Range; Manley Park, Whalley Range and St Paul’s, Withington.
Ms Shah Headteacher, St Augustine's CE Primary School said: "We are delighted to take part in this project that raises awareness of the harm that air pollution causes. Our children are passionate about the environment and they are leading the way in encouraging not only their own families but the whole school community to change ingrained habits to bring about a healthier and greener school environment. We want to encourage as many parents and children to walk or cycle to school and for those that have to drive to school to either park away from the school entrance or to switch off their engines if they are parked near the school."
Year six pupils, Patrick Okosun and Zohaib Khan from two of the school's Rights Respecting Ambassadors added "We think St Augustine Street should be closed on Thursday’s National Clean Air day so that people from our school use less transport and apply Article 24 – The right to Health and Safety."
Clean Air Day is the UK's largest air pollution campaign. Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK. The World Health Organisation and the UK Government recognise air pollution as the largest environmental health risk faced today. Poor air quality causes heart and lung diseases and is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development.
Banners will be displayed outside schools to provide messaging to parents and guardians about the need to switch off their engines to improve air quality in the vicinity of their children’s playgrounds. Eleven more Manchester schools have expressed an interest in organising School Streets events at a future date to enable more effective planning and resident consultation and will work with the council to plan their projects.
Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, said: “The School Streets events taking place this Clean Air Day will highlight the benefits of reducing traffic at the school gates. By creating safer streets we want to encourage more parents and pupils to actively walk or cycle to school. Less traffic and parked vehicles near the school gates at the beginning and end of the school day increases everyone's ability to maintain social distance measures safely.
“We will continue to work with local schools, both to highlight the proven benefits of cycling and walking instead of using the car and to examine whether more regular school streets can be brought forward in the future to promote active travel as the safest way to travel to school, as well as helping to improve air quality and respond to the ongoing issue of climate change."