Schools awards scheme promotes clean air

Eastleigh Clean Air Aware Awards aim to reduce school-run car  journeys

A new award scheme for schools in Eastleigh Borough, that aims to reduce air pollution and encourage parents and children to travel more sustainably, is launched this month at Toynbee School in Chandler’s Ford, ahead of Cycle to School Week. The event will coincide with the unveiling of the school’s impressive new bike shelter.  

Schools that demonstrate their commitment to improving air quality in their area will be recognised with an Eastleigh Clean Air Aware Award. The aim of the award is to reduce the number of car journeys made on the school run and encourage the use of more sustainable transport in the form of cycling, walking or scooting. As well as cutting pollution from exhaust fumes, the scheme will also help families work together to reduce their carbon footprint and improve children’s fitness.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution as their bodies are still developing – and the increased volume of traffic around schools at pick-up and drop-off time has been shown to increase concentrations of harmful pollutants, particularly when vehicles are idling.

As part of the project, monitors will be used to measure nitrogen dioxide levels around the school grounds to increase awareness of one of the main pollutants produced by burning fossil fuels. NO2 is linked to health issues, including asthma, cancer and cardiovascular problems. The data collected will be incorporated into science and environmental lessons to give the students hands on experience of air quality science.

School heads and pupils across the Borough will be learning more about the award scheme, which the Council is running in partnership with Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, during the autumn term.  Schools will need to meet criteria in four areas to win their award, and will then receive a flag to mark their successful participation in the scheme.

Eastleigh Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Rupert Kyrle, welcomes the scheme. He said: “The issue of pollution and its impact on the health of growing children has been in in news a lot lately and the Eastleigh Clean Air Aware Award is one of a number of initiatives to tackle the problem – and help us move towards a carbon neutral Borough.”