PARENTS are being urged to try to leave their cars at home on the school run as part of a global campaign running throughout the month.
The UK is one of 40 countries participating in International Walk to School Month, and it is hoped that fewer cars on the school run will lead to a reduction in traffic congestion outside schools, improved road safety and less air pollution which can aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Robert Snowball, Hartlepool Borough Council’s sustainable travel officer, said: “We hope that parents and children in Hartlepool will walk to school as much as possible during the month – and then keep on doing so.
“This could involve them walking all the way to school, parking up and walking the last ten minutes of their journey or jumping off the bus two stops early – it all counts!”
As part of International Walk to School Month, the council is encouraging schools across the town to adopt ten-minute walking/traffic exclusion zones and to ask parents to avoid parking in these areas for at least one day during the month.
Mr Snowball added: “If parents each do their bit, then collectively we can really make a difference.
“But the key to really making a difference is to adopt longer-term changes in our behaviour and that is why we are asking people to continue walking even after International Walk to School Month has ended.”
Hartlepool schools are also being invited to enter a competition that involves making a short film on the subject of “encouraging sustainable travel and road safety”.
The competition is open to both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils and entries will be judged on the basis of originality, creativity, content and presentation.
The winning entry will be used as part of a scenario at the council’s Environment Roundabout, an annual event that aims to increase pupils’ awareness of environmental issues.
There will also be a prize for the winning school and runners-up prizes.