Medway Council is leading an exciting schools science project designed to raise awareness of the impact of traffic on air quality and public health.
Starting this term, the Clean Air for Schools initiative, which is supported by the KM Charity Team, will explore the impact of traffic on school air and what pupils can do to improve the environment.
Schools are being invited to take part, and they will be given air-monitoring equipment to set up on their grounds and collect air-quality data over a 10-month period.
And it is hoped that the data schools collect will emphasise the environmental benefits of taking part in the KM Walk to School campaign.
To encourage schools to take part, Medway Council is also supporting a new category in the Green School Awards, which encourage pupil-led activity to protect the environment.
James Williams, director of public health at Medway Council, said: “We’re excited to have this new category within the Green School Awards.
“Public health is one of the things we’re really focused on – giving people insight into what they can do and what everyone can do across Medway to improve the quality of life.
“Air quality is one of the major problems in society. Within Medway, we know what we’re trying to do, which is improve the quality of life for children, and we’re starting here.”
Environmental protection officer Stuart Steed added: “Medway Council has been monitoring air quality for a number of years now. It’s something we’re really engaged with and proactive in doing.
“We would really like communities and schools to get involved with the Clean Air for Schools initiative and to do some monitoring in their own back yard.
“It’s really easy to do, really low-cost, really easy to put up and take down each month.”
As well as raising awareness of air pollution and the importance of reducing car journeys to school, the Clean Air for Schools initiative complements primary school science and health education aspects of the national curriculum.
Alternatively, it could be completed as an extracurricular activity with an environment club, green team or eco committee.
The Green School Awards are organised by the KM Charity Team and showcase environmental campaigns and best practice. They are staged to help children become more knowledgeable about the environment and what can be done to help protect and conserve it.
Other categories include green travel to school and road safety, energy conservation, nature conservation and recycling.
The entry process will get under way later this year.
The KM Charity Team organises green travel programmes for schools including Super Wow (Walk on Wednesday), designed to cut road journeys, encourage pupils to lead more healthy and active lifestyles, reduce air pollution, and boost road safety near schools.
The charity’s work is supported by Whites Transport, Ashford International Hotel, Orbit, Volker Highways, Countrystyle Recycling, Golding Vision (part of Golding Homes), Specsavers, Eurostar, Three R’s Teacher Recruitment, Whitefriars and Maidstone, Ashford, Kent, Medway and Bexley councils.
Chief executive of the KM Charity Team, Simon Dolby, said: “Clean Air for Schools is a fantastic initiative and I urge schools to take part. It will not only enthuse and empower pupils to take steps to protect the environment, but also give schools an opportunity for recognition at the Green School Awards.
“And of course any school taking part in both this initiative and one of our green travel schemes, such as Wow, Green Footsteps or Walking Bus, will have an even stronger chance of winning an award.”
Schools can join the Clean Air for Schools initiative by contacting Sarah Clyne at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0844 264 0291.
They can also contact Sarah to sign up to Super Wow this term at a 20% discount and have green travel in place for September. Find out more at www.kmwalktoschool.co.uk/wow.