Children hold Valentine's Day school walk to show love for planet

CHILDREN have been showing their love for the planet this Valentine’s Day by ditching the car and walking to school.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 14th February 2020, 4:00 pm

The pupils from Westover Primary School decided to organise the Walk to School Day after finding out Portsmouth had the second highest levels in the country for the pollutant PM2.5 which is caused by vehicle pollution.

Year 5 pupil, Lily Frampton, aged nine, said: ‘It’s really sad that we are the second worst city in the country for this type of pollution. This can be bad for our health and cause breathing problems, particularly for people with asthma.’

Classmate, Chloe Brooks, also nine, added: ‘I’m really worried about the amount of pollution in the city. If we don’t do something now it will only get worse and cause problems for generations of the future.’

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Westover Primary School children are campaigning to improve air quality in Portsmouth. Eco Club campaigners (back) Emily Robinson, 10, with (left to right) Mia Siddle, 9, Grace Phillips, 9, Evie Parslow, 9, Lily Hughes, 8, Lily Frampton, 9, Lily Middleton, 10, and Chloe Brooks, 9. Picture: Sarah Standing

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Many pupils were also concerned about the global impacts of pollution.

Year 4 pupil, Evie Parslow, said: ‘Cars also give off carbon dioxide which is causing global warming and climate change.’

The pupil-led initiative devised by the school’s Eco Club saw all 300 pupils walk to the Baffins school from as far afield as Southsea and North End.

Westover Primary School children took part in a Walk to School Day to raise awareness about air pollution in Portsmouth. Eco Club members who organised the walk, (left to right) Mia Siddle, 9, Lily Frampton, 9, Emily Robinson, 10, Lily Hughes, 8, Grace Phillips, 9, Lily Middleton, 10, Chloe Brooks, 9, and Evie Parslow, 9. Picture: Sarah Standing (140220-5759)

Emily Robinson, nine, said: ‘I really enjoyed walking to school. It’s much healthier and you also get to talk with friends as you walk.’

As well as organising the walk, Eco Club pupils have also written to Portsmouth City Council expressing their concerns about levels of pollution and offering suggestions as to what they feel needs to be done.

Lilly Middleton, 10, said: ‘The problem with pollution is it’s often invisible and so easier for politicians to ignore. The council should plant more trees around the city and create more cycle and walkways for people to get to school safely.’

Lily Frampton added: ‘The government should help lower the price of electric cars and the council needs to make sure there are more electric charging points in the city.’

Eco Club members (middle) Lily Hughes, 8, with (left to right) Mia Siddle, 9, Lily Frampton, 9, Lily Middleton, 10, Emily Robinson, 10, Evie Parslow, 9, Grace Phillips, 9 and Chloe Brooks, 9. Picture: Sarah Standing

With figures from Public Health England showing that air pollution in Portsmouth contributes to 95 deaths each year it’s an issue of great concern to the council which last year launched its Cough Cough Engine Off campaign.

Speaking at the campaign launch, cabinet member for environment, councillor Dave Ashmore, said: ‘Leaving an engine running unnecessarily is not only an offence it’s damaging to the environment. Our campaign reminds drivers to turn off their engine when not in use but also highlights the damaging effect vehicle pollution has on the environment and our health.’

After the success of the Walk to School initiative pupils now hope to make it a regular event.

Emily said: ‘We hope to have a Fresh Air Friday – a day each week when children and teachers all walk to school.’

Year 5 teacher, Lisa Rutter, said: ‘It’s these children who are going to have to live in a world affected by pollution and so it’s only right to raise awareness of the issue and give them a platform to be heard.’