Prizes for air-pollution pupils

James Flower of Medway Council public health team with Abbigale Field, Robyn Smith and Holly Recht of St Mary’s Island Primary School

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Pupils at a Medway primary have been recognised for their engagement with environmental issues.

Children at St Mary’s Island Primary in Chatham have been granted Green Champion status by the KM Charity Team to celebrate their involvement with a Medway Council initiative that gets schools to help monitor air pollution across the borough.

Pupils Abbigale Field, Robyn Smith and Holly Recht were presented with limited-edition Green Champion T-shirts by Stuart Steed of Medway Council’s air-quality team and James Flower of Medway’s public health department.

The council now hopes that St Mary’s Island’s success will inspire other pupils to get involved with the air-monitoring project, and is appealing for schools to sign up for it.

The air-monitoring project ran at St Mary’s Island between November and April, and turned up some interesting results.

Abbigale said: “We worked out that the staff car park was a lot more polluted than the back gate, and it was a lot more polluted in the colder months as people want to be in a car more to stay warm.”

The council supplied St Mary’s Island with test tubes for collecting air, which the children placed at various sites around the school grounds.

The children then sent the tubes for analysis at a laboratory. They also made a special poster to promote Clean Air Day last week (June 20), and came up with campaigning messages to encourage more members of the school community to adopt green travel.

Mr Steed said: “I’m really happy to be at St Mary’s Island here today to see how they’ve been getting on with their project, which has been funded by the council as part of our clean-air initiative.

“Really impressed with the work the pupils have done carrying out the monitoring, the initiatives that they’ve done since that and their support for Clean Air Day.”

He added: “We really need more schools to sign up for this project. It is free to any school that is an air-quality management area.

“It’s a very simple thing to do. Even I can do it. So children should have no problem.”

Air pollution is one of the categories for the Green School Awards, which celebrate and promote schools’ engagement with environmental issues.

The awards’ other categories are energy conservation; nature conservation; recycling; health and wellbeing; and green travel to school and road safety.

Eligible schools could include primaries taking part in green-travel scheme Active Wow.

Active Wow encourages families to walk to school, with classes competing each week to be awarded the Green Class of the Week Trophy. Monthly inter-school green-travel challenges award winning classes tickets to leisure attractions or visits by storytellers.

To encourage more schools to take part, the KM Charity Team is offering a 20 per cent discount for any that sign up by the end of them. And members of staff responsible for registering their schools will go into a free prize draw to win two Eurostar tickets.

Active Wow is supported by White’s Transport, Ashford International Hotel, Orbit, Volker Highways, Countrystyle Recycling, Golding Vision, Specsavers, Eurostar, Three R’s Teacher Recruitment, Whitefriars, Kent, Maidstone, Bexley, Medway and Ashford councils, London Array and EduKit.

To find out more, contact Kathy Beel at or on 0844 264 0291.

For information about Medway Council’s air-monitoring work with schools, contact Stuart Steed at or on 01634 331105.

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