Putney school pupils play in traffic-free street as part of pollution-reducing scheme

Children in Putney safely played in the street outside their primary school on Wednesday as part of a new neighbourhood community initiative.

The Granard School pupils played outside the school when classes ended on Wednesday, thanks to a pilot scheme in Wandsworth arranged by the school, parents, environmental charity Sustrans and supported by the council.

With Cortis Terrace free of traffic, the children were able to play as mums and dads got the chance to join the fun or spend time chatting and meeting new friends.

SAFETY FIRST: Stewards guarded the entrance to the road while the children played.

Granard’s headteacher Cheryl Grigg said: “The streets around our school are often dominated by idling cars and traffic at drop-off and pick-up times, resulting in air pollution and an environment that is generally unpleasant for walking and cycling.

“Ultimately, we want to effect a permanent change in the way children travel to school and also hope to inspire more schools to try this approach and to raise awareness to the public about travel and its impact on health, well-being and the environment.”

The scheme’s wider aim is to provide the children with a safe space to play and to ease the congestion, poor air quality and road safety concerns that families sometimes experience during drop-off and pick-up time and has already seen success in a other areas around the country.

COME RAIN OR SHINE: Play continued on despite wet weather.

Year 6 teacher and travel plan co-ordinator Sara Rahmani said: “We had close to 300 kids and parents attend and it was a great chance for the kids to be active and us to catch up with our community.

“The goal was to provide the kids with a safe place to play as well as easing congestion and it was great to see so many people there despite the weather!

“I heard that 8/10 children in London get less than an hour of exercise a day and that 1/3 of all car journeys could be walked.

“In the future if we close the roads and encourage people to walk we’re saving the planet and giving our children a chance to be more active!”

Miss Rahmani said that a survey is going to be conducted to see if parents and children enjoyed the event.

“When I look back at my childhood and when I spoke to older members of staff, we remember how it was perfectly normal to play in the streets,” she said.

“I don’t think this is just a London problem but we’d like more schools near us to take on this idea!”

Miss Rahmani added: “We hope that our Play Street event has inspired more schools to try this approach and to raise awareness about travel and its impact on health, wellbeing and the environment.

“We are on a mission to create more sustainable, active and safe journeys.

“We hope others will join us in making positive change happen.”

The council is currently considering the practicality of ‘school streets’ at Penwortham, Hillbrook, Alderbrook, Earlsfield and Furzedown primaries.

The council is also promoting safer travel and improvements to air quality levels outside primary schools by inviting a number of head teachers to support another pilot scheme that would stop traffic from driving past their school gates at drop-off and pick-up times.

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