Godmanchester school encourage people to ditch cars for Clean Air Day

Godmanchester Community Academy Junior Travel Ambassadors

Godmanchester Community Academy Junior Travel Ambassadors - Credit: Archant

Children have set a golden standard by reducing air pollution at their Godmanchester School.

By taking simple steps Godmanchester Community Academy has seen car journeys to their school reduce by 15 per cent with walking to school increasing by 10 per cent over a three year period - and they are now challenging residents of Cambridgeshire to do the same.

This Clean Air Day (20 June) Cambridgeshire County Council is focusing on actions taken by schools to cut pollution, promote active lifestyles and improve children's health. Motor vehicle emissions are a major source of air pollution in Cambridgeshire.

Children who breathe in higher levels of air pollution over time, are at greater risk of their lungs not developing as well, they are also more likely to develop related health conditions such as asthma, wheezing and coughs.

The council has recently contacted all their school transport providers asking them to turn off engines when they are waiting outside schools, to help reduce the amount of pollution breathed in by children.

By making small changes like leaving your car at home, and choosing to walk, cycle or take public transport, can help reduce air pollution and reduce the negative impact people's health, especially those who are vulnerable, or have existing health conditions.

Godmanchester Community Academy has introduced a range of initiatives to help improve air quality around their school.

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Introducing schemes like, Junior Travel Ambassadors (JTAs), no idling campaigns asking parents and school bus drivers to turn their engines off when waiting outside the school, park and stride schemes (distance parking), pool bikes and raising awareness with families about the health benefits of a less polluted environment.

The school has been working closely with Cambridgeshire County Council's Road Safety Team on their travel plans using the Modeshift STARS national programme - which recognises schools that support cycling, walking and other forms of sustainable travel. The programme is funded by Cambridgeshire County Council's Public Health grant.

In 2015 the school was awarded Modeshift School of the Region, Cycling School of the Region.

More than 70 schools across the county have signed up to the travel plan scheme, with 64 schools accredited either bronze, silver or gold.

Cambridgeshire County Council's Chair of the Health Committee Councillor Peter Hudson said: "Air pollution affects your health from your first breath to your last. By doing simple things like giving your car a day off and walking to your local shops - can help improve the air quality and reduce the risk of developing respiratory health conditions.

"We have been working closely with District Councils, schools and partners to take steps through school travel plans, traffic management measures, walking and cycling projects to provide sustainable travel solutions for residents, to help reduce pollution in Cambridgeshire.

"I would like to congratulate Godmanchester Community Academy on their amazing achievements and initiatives - they are an inspiration to their peers.

"If we all look to take simple steps, together we can significantly help improve the air quality around us so we and our loved ones can go on to lead healthier lives."

Teacher and Travel Champion at Godmanchester Community Academy, Julia Millard said: "We are so proud of the efforts of our pupils and staff to promote a healthy and active lifestyle - the support of our parents, local area and the council's Road Safety Team is invaluable.

"The Junior Travel Ambassadors' have promoted the clean air messages throughout the community and in school through events like Bling Your Boots and Bike, organising a free breakfast to those who travel without a car and recently a Historical Walk to School.

"Parents have welcomed this initiative, saying the experience of being a Junior Travel Ambassador has been important in helping to grow their child's confidence."