Shakespeare Junior School have a day of street fun in bid to reduce air pollution

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Pupils in Eastleigh reclaimed the street outside their school during an afternoon of traditional games, chalk drawing and plenty of cycling and scooting in the road.

Children from Shakespeare Junior School in Eastleigh, whose core learning values include being active and innovative, made their school run extra quiet, safe and healthy during the afternoon of Tuesday 9 July, by working with Sustrans, the sustainable travel charity that makes it easier for people to walk and cycle.

Data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs shows four in ten children are breathing poor quality air at school, leaving pupils at an increased risk of worsening long term conditions such as asthma. Walking and cycling can play a key role in improving air quality outside the school gates while helping to boost children’s activity levels. St Catherine’s Road was closed to cars from 2.45pm to 5.30pm, with the aim of improving air quality at the school gates and creating an environment in which cycling and walking are safe, convenient and enjoyable.

The road closure was the first of its kind in Hampshire, though Sustrans has trialled the approach in other parts of the country.

Parents and pupils were encouraged to walk to school or park and stride instead, leaving their cars further away from the school gates.

Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “Well done to pupils and staff at Shakespeare Junior school for taking this initiative. Everybody can have a positive influence on air quality. Simple actions such as walking to school, car-sharing or switching off idling car engines will contribute significantly to healthier air quality for all of us.”

Councillor Judith Grajewski, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Public Health, added: “Changes like this can make a big difference to the quality of our air and to our children’s health. Poor air quality can exacerbate existing health conditions, in both the young and old. It is important that everyone tries to do what they can to improve air quality and the environment.”

This event in Eastleigh was part of Sustrans’ School Streets programme, which aims to ease the congestion, poor air quality and road safety concerns that many schools experience during drop-off and pick-up times by facilitating traffic restrictions outside the school gates.

As well as games, skipping and drawing in the road, pupils had the opportunity to get their bikes checked over by Sustrans staff during a Dr Bike session.