STARS South Yorkshire Stride for National Clean Air Day

Posted: Tue, 19 Jun 2018 09:58

Thursday 21st June will be Global Action Plan's 2nd Clean Air Day with schools, workplaces and individuals across the nation undertaking activities to improve air quality both indoors and outdoors and spread the word about air pollution, its causes and remedies. The STARS South Yorkshire project promotes active and sustainable travel to school through the delivery of fun, engaging and educational activities that bring about change in travel behaviours at schools and promote healthy and active lifestyles to young people and their families.

This day is more important than ever with recent research highlighting that the health damage associated with diesel vehicle emissions are around 20 times greater than electric vehicles and at least 5 times greater than those associated with petrol vehicles. The total health cost to the UK from cars and vans is £6billion each year, with almost 90% of this coming from diesel vehicles. Global Action Plan have identified that swapping 1 in 4 car journeys in urban areas for walking or cycling could save over £1.1 billion in health damage costs per year.

The STARS South Yorkshire Team chose to do the walk on Clean Air Day in order to demonstrate both the importance of action for Clean Air and to 'put their money where their mouth is' - showing their schools how much they care about active and sustainable travel.

The route will start in Rotherham, with the team walking approximately 4.5 miles into Sheffield where they'll have lunch at Elsecar Heritage Centre. This will be followed by an 11.5 mile section in the afternoon between Elsecar (Barnsley) and Conisbrough (Doncaster), with the walk finishing at Conisbrough Castle. They were inspired in part by South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership's 10-day active travel challenge. http://www.sysrp.co.uk/activetravelchallenge/

Schools located near the route have been invited to join the walk for sections and schools across the region are encouraged to take part in some kind of walking activity on the day – a walk to school day, a daily mile or other step challenge. In addition to this the team have linked up with Unicef and Clarks Shoes to promote the ShoeShare Scheme. As part of Unicefs Rights for Respecting Schools campaign pupils are asked to bring their family's old and unwanted shoes into school. In partnership with Clarks Shoes, these are then sent for re-use. For every tonne of shoes collected, a donation is made to Unicef which goes towards education programmes around the world.

This campaign ties air quality issues, working with schools and the promotion of walking together beautifully as shoes usually take quite a few years to decompose; running shoes can take up to 1000 years to break down. During the process of decomposition, organic shoe materials such as leather release a harmful greenhouse gas called methane which contributes to climate change. Therefore, throwing away our unwanted shoes will only worsen air pollution and climate change whereas recycling them will reduce the negative environmental impact.

As if this wasn't enough, another member of the STARS South Yorkshire Team is cycling the Way of the Roses - a 170 mile coast to coast route starting in Morecambe and finishing in Bridlington. Taking cyclists on a route comprising mostly of quiet roads and off-road cycle paths, the team member is hoping to beat their 2012 time of 16 hours. The ride will take place on June 20th as part of the 10-day active travel challenge that local schools are taking part in. In this challenge, schools compete against each other to see who can achieve the highest number of pupils and parents travelling to school actively over a 2-week period.

The hope of the STARS South Yorkshire team completing these epic challenges is to inspire people to re-consider their choice of travel to school, even for just one day a week.

We are proud to be involved with and supporting Unicef and Clean Air Day this year. If you want your schools to help less fortunate young people around the world take their first steps into education go to https://www.unicef.org.uk/rights-respecting-schools/resources/shoeshare/

If you want to learn more about air pollution and access some great resources go to GAPs Clean Air Day website https://www.cleanairday.org.uk/

Tags: Clean air day, South Yorkshire, walking