The Living Streets charity has launched the WOW Walk to School challenge to help reduce levels of air pollution.
The national campaign is encouraging more children to walk to their schools. The challenge aims to reduce the number of congested roads and the associated levels of pollution.
The organisation found that due to the increase in bad air quality it has led to 40,000 people in the UK dying prematurely. One in four cars on the road in peak times was recorded as being on the school run.
According to NHS England, deaths from respiratory diseases are higher in areas with people from disadvantaged backgrounds. This includes areas of social deprivation which have seen higher rates of smoking and exposure to high levels of pollution.
There are currently 68 schools which are taking part in the challenge. School children can partake by using WOW, an online tracker.
Therefore, each morning children can input their journeys, if they have travelled actively. For example, cycling, using a scooter or walking, they are awarded with a badge at the end of every month.
Amanda Dufresne, the project co-ordinator for Living Streets in the Liverpool region, told MerseyNewsLive: “The air pollution outside schools is very high and we have some schools in areas where the pollution level is higher.”
She added: “We are working really closely with those schools to encourage people to leave their cars at home or park away from the school gate to reduce poor air quality.
“We do recognise for some people leaving your car at home isn’t always a possibility. We are very careful in making sure the scheme is accessible to everybody.”
There have been some positive outcomes for the WOW campaign where they have recorded an average increase of 23% of pupils involved walking to school. This was followed by a 30% decrease of cars found at the schools’ gates.
Amanda said: “I’m so impressed by the level of knowledge coming from the children, they’re really understanding the environmental impact cars are having. So it’s not children that we need to convince.”
Living Streets is continuing working with local authorities such as, road safety department and healthy schools’ teams. Amanda said: “We work with them to identify the schools most at need and could benefit from WOW.”
To see how your child can get involved, click here.
A social short by: Saskia Fryer. Photos by: The Living Streets Charity.