Walk to School days set to become a regular event in Harrogate
It’s been long-regarded as one of the biggest obstacles in cutting traffic congestion and carbon emissions across the Harrogate district - and which very few thought it possible to overcome.
But campaigners are hailing the success of the first Walk to School Day in Harrogate as hope that the problem of the school run clogging up roads can finally be tackled as part of the district’s efforts to play its part in combating the climate emergency.
The environmentally-friendly initiative proved to be a huge hit with the children, parents and green campaigners..
The brainchild of volunteer-led charity Zero Carbon Harrogate under its events manager Fiona Jones, the pioneering event saw a total of 31 secondary and primary schools in the district taking part.
Thousands of youngsters - and their parents - ditched the car and showed the way forward on climate change in the successful new initiative.
Instead of their usual car journeys, Walk to School Day saw youngsters walking, cycling, travelling by public transport, or using ‘park and stride’ before walking the last mile to their school.
Jemima Parker, chair of Zero carbon Harrogate, said: “We are delighted that so many schools from across the district joined in with the first Walk to School Day.
“We are keen to help everyone find practical ways to cut the carbon emissions from our travel.”
The event may have been for one day only but its significance as the town grapples with the thorny issue of sustainable transport should not be underestimated.
Official figures show road transport is by far the largest contributor to carbon emissions in the Harrogate district and is, in fact, 28% above the UK average.
Just how important the event is regarded was reflected in its supporters, who included Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition and Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones who visited two of the schools involved in the project - Harrogate Grammar School and Rossett Acre Primary School.
Andrew Jones MP said: “Leaving the car behind helps us tackle the climate emergency by reducing pollution and reducing the use of natural resources.
“I think it’s a great initiative and I hope it grows from a half-termly event to become part of the regular way school pupils - and the rest of us - tackle short journeys.”
Which Harrogate district schools did best in Walk to School Day
In an effort to ensure Walk to School Day is fun for pupils and schools, organisers introduced an element of competition.
In the primary school category, the winner was North Stainley Church of England Primary School with an impressive 94% of their pupils taking part while runners-up were Killinghall Church of England Primary School (90%) and Aspin Park Academy in Knaresborough (87%).
In the secondary school category, the winner was Harrogate Grammar School.
Walk to School Day: The future
Harrogate District Walk to School Day will now be held regularly as a half-termly event.
The next one will take place on Friday, October 8, 2021.
More info at www.zerocarbonharrogate.org.uk/
What is Walk to School Day?
The first Walk to School Day took place in the USA in 1997.
The goal is to raise awareness and support for the health, community and environmental benefits of regularly walking or biking to school.
International Walk to School Day is a global event held in the first week of October that involves communities from more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day. It began in 1997 as a one-day event.
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