Article Source: Clean Air Day
First Published: 17 May 2021 10:55
Updated: 17 May 2021 10:59
Sciennes Primary School is one of 12 in the city to run a ‘school street,’ where the route outside a school is shut to vehicles at certain times during the school day to encourage children to walk and cycle, improving their health and reducing exposure to air pollution from vehicles.
With one month to go until the Clean Air Day Scotland, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Frank Ross, helped Sciennes’ primary six Junior Road Safety Officers (JRSO’s) Eilidh Mowbray, aged 10, Amy Yang, aged, 10, and Rory Smith, both aged 11, and a group of primary seven pupils launched the campaign in the Sciennes Road ‘school street.’
Pupils designed bunting which they hung on the school railings in the once congested road and signed pledges to walk and cycle and to encourage their families to ditch the car.
Also in attendance was the school’s depute headteacher Lucy Gallagher, teacher Gregor Hutchison, Caroline McKenna, co-chair of the school PTA and John Bynorth from the charity, Environmental Protection Scotland (EPS), which is coordinating Clean Air Day in Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.
The pupils were presented with the first ever Clean Air Day colouring book – a collaboration between EPS and art students across Scotland – which has drawings for children to bring to life on an air pollution and environmental theme.
The campaign has established itself as Scotland’s main air quality campaign since the first National Clean Air Day took place in June 2017.
On 17th June, people are being encouraged to walk or cycle, rather than use the car, particularly on the school run or for other shorter trips to schools and supermarkets. The campaign also encourages people to consider walking or cycling less polluted side streets after research found this could reduce a child exposure to air pollution by 30%. Clean Air Day campaigners also want people to consider the purchase of an Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) ahead of the ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel cars and vans from 2030.
Sciennes Primary School are a long established supporter of Clean Air Day Scotland.
In 2017, pupils met Roseanna Cunningham, who was then the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, at the school on the first National Clean Air Day. At the 2018 event, 99 Sciennes’ pupils marched down The Mound with placards proclaiming the need for better air quality before they met with the City of Edinburgh Council leader, Adam McVey.
Sciennes Primary School’s headteacher Andrew Hunter said: “Sciennes Primary School has supported Clean Air Day for many years and our involvement has helped our pupils learn about air pollution and how it can affect health. The campaign supports our promotion of the benefits of active travel and care for the environment.”
Lucy Gallagher, Sciennes Primary School’s depute headteacher, said: “As a Unicef Gold Rights Respecting School we are very pleased to continue our support for Clean Air Day to raise awareness of children's right to good health and to promote active travel. Clean Air Day also ties in with the Sustainable Development Goals to tackle Climate Change - an issue which is extremely important to our young people and brought into even sharper focus with the forthcoming COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow.
“We want to thank City of Edinburgh Council for listening to our children's voices and closing the road outside Sciennes Primary so they can have clean air every day on their safe and active route to school.”
Caroline McKenna, co-chair of Sciennes Primary School’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA), said: “This school really encourages cycling and walking to school. Having this section of road closed makes everything so much easier for children to get into school. There are massive benefits from ‘school streets’ with less traffic, lower pollution levels and a calmer environment for everyone.”
The Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Frank Ross, a trustee of Environmental Protection Scotland, said: “In Edinburgh we wholeheartedly support the Clean Air Day campaign’s aims, and through initiatives like School Streets we’re helping our youngest generations to make journeys by healthy, active travel. It’s wonderful to see some of our Junior Road Safety Officers join in to celebrate Clean Air Day’s fifth anniversary, and to spread the clean air message, which will be so important for years to come. This Clean Air Day we’re reaffirming our commitment to tackle air pollution, for the future of our city.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The air that we breathe is fundamental to human life and the quality of our environment, protecting and enhancing our health and wellbeing.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that it is more important than ever that we design a more sustainable, greener economy which will better support our communities, health and environment as we head for net-zero by 2045.
“We would encourage all people and organisations to engage in Scotland’s fifth Clean Air Day, and reflect on how, together, we can build a better, cleaner future for our planet, this generation – and those to come.”
John Bynorth, Policy and Communications Officer at Environmental Protection Scotland (EPS), coordinators of Clean Air Day in Scotland, on behalf of the Scottish Government, said: “Five is the age when most children go to school so 2021 is milestone for Clean Air Day – and time to focus further on the need to ensure air quality remains good to protect our children’s health.
“On 17th June, Clean Air Day will demonstrate our support for action on air pollution and speak out to show how much we care about building a clean air future for our children.”
“Schools across the country are learning about the health benefits cycling, walking and the benefits this has on air quality, particularly in towns and cities. We’ve got an opportunity after lockdown, which saw dramatic reductions in car use, to build a healthier, less polluting Scotland.”
Larissa Lockwood, Director of Clean Air at Global Action Plan, the overall UK coordinators of Clean Air Day, said: “We are thrilled to continue supporting Clean Air Day Scotland in its fifth year and applaud schools like Sciennes Primary School for setting up School Streets. These measures make such a difference to improving air quality and also help to inspire and normalise action on tackling air pollution.
“This Clean Air Day we must demonstrate our support for action on air pollution and speak out to show how much we care about building a clean air future for our children. As we return to our lives, we must take this opportunity to create healthy environment for our children where they can learn and play safely. We have a once in a lifetime chance for change. Let’s use it.”
The Scottish Government is finalising its new Cleaner Air For Scotland strategy, which will be published later this year. It aims to build on the strengths of the original strategy, published in 2015, and make Scotland’s air quality the best in Europe.
Clean Air Day resources can be downloaded from https://www.cleanairday.org.uk/scotland
Image by photographer Mark Gibson shows Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Frank Ross, helped Sciennes’ primary six Junior Road Safety Officers
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