Huge show of support for first Harrogate Walk to School Day
A total of 31 secondary and primary schools across the Harrogate district have taken part in the first Harrogate District Walk to School Day.
Thousands of youngsters - and their parents - ditched the car and showed the way forward on tackling the climate emergency in an event created by volunteer-led charity Zero Carbon Harrogate
Instead of their usual car journey, children either walked, cycled, used public transport, or used the 'park and stride' option and walked the last mile to their school.
Road transport is the largest contributor to carbon emissions across Harrogate District, and is 28% above the UK average. Reducing emissions from road transport is key if we are to meet our Net Zero targets.
The Walk to School Day is part of a wider campaign called ‘Car Free Fridays’, which will launch this autumn during the Harrogate District Climate Action Festival with the aim to encourage better transport habits.
Afterwards, the day was voted a huge success with many schools taking headcounts in a bid to be at the top of Zero Carbon Harrogate’s leaderboard for the greatest percentage of pupils taking part.
A huge congratulations was offered to North Stainley Church of England Primary School, who were the primary winners this time, with an impressive 94% of their pupils taking part. Runners up were Killinghall Church of England Primary School (90%) and Aspin Park Academy in Knaresborough (87%).
The secondary school winners will be announced at the end of the week on Zero Carbon Harrogate’s social media pages and website.
The campaign is supported by the Harrogate Borough Council. Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, was at Harrogate Grammar School and Rossett Acre Primary School on Friday morning to welcome students, along with Councillor Phil Ireland, Councillor Paul Haslam, and Professor Neil Coles, Chair of the Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition.
Andrew Jones MP said: “We all know walking and cycling are healthy and fun ways to get around – particularly if there is a group of you. Leaving the car behind also helps us tackle the climate emergency by reducing pollution and reducing the use of natural resources.
“That is why I wanted to join Zero Carbon Harrogate and the youngsters taking part in our area’s first Walk to School day. 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.”
Zero Carbon Harrogate’s Event Manager, Fiona Jones, said, “This is such an important event for our community. Often children do not feel they have a voice when it comes to climate change, but a Walk to School Day is something that empowers children to cut their family's carbon emissions through their own actions.”
Although the campaign is focused on pupils, it couldn’t have been possible without the fantastic support from school staff and parents across all schools, who were a big part of why the day was so successful.
Sophie Kirkwood, Eco Lead at Rossett Acre Primary School, said: "I was very excited for our school to take part. The day was a success! Many children and staff who normally drive instead chose to walk the whole, or part, of the way to school.
"The children were enthusiastic about the event and viewed it as their way of helping tackle climate change and pollution. We are a Green Flag school so we always try our best to help the environment as much as we can.
"I hope to do more walk to school days in the future.”
What students from Rossett Acre Primary School in Harrogate said
“I normally get to school by walking, because we live very near to school.” (Oscar, aged 10)
“I normally walk because I think it’s really important not to take unnecessary car journeys, because pollution comes from the exhaust pipes - it pollutes the planet but it’s also bad for people’s lungs, especially young children’s lungs.” (Rosie, aged 10)
“I usually go in the car, but I want to change that because it pollutes the air. So today I walked.” (Jessica, aged 10)
What students from Harrogate Grammar School said:
“I try to cycle or walk to places as much as possible to try and cut down my carbon emissions. It helps you get fitter as well,” (Ben)
“It gives me positive energy for the day. You’re out in the fresh air and it’s better than being in the car,” (Zack)
“I normally walk to school, pretty much every day. It just helps me relax.” (Anish)
“Because I live further away I take the bus, which is much better than getting in a car. If everyone on the bus got in their car there would be [higher] carbon emissions.” (Sam)
“At home we tend to switch off lights when they’re not being used.” (Chloe)
“I’ve also been trying this new thing where I eat less red meat.” (Paddy)
“I think we should protect our planet because it’s where we live, it’s where future people are going to live, it’s our home.” (Matthew)
Even more schools in the Harrogate district have pledged to take part in the next Walk to School Day on Friday, October 8 in the battle to be the Autumn winner.
To view your school on the leaderboard go to https://www.zerocarbonharrogate.org.uk/school-leaderboard
A message from the Editor
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.
Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.