Pupils take steps to beat obesity
London, Aug 16: A report has called for car exclusion zones around schools to help tackle
global warming and obesity, but a Norfolk primary school has enjoyed success
with a rewards scheme encouraging pupils to walk.
The Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) has called for the
exclusion zones, saying over-use of cars is fuelling the "twin crises" of global
warming and an obesity epidemic.
Pupils at Millfield Primary School have already taken action, with a
walk-to-school scheme in which they exchange "walking tokens" for healthy
A series of stamping machines, designed by the students, have been erected at
points along the routes taken by children attending the school in North Walsham.
Since May, pupils have been encouraged to stamp tokens as they walk or cycle
to class and exchange them for a range of rewards including healthy snacks,
stationery and a choice of Friday afternoon activities.
School bursar Lesley Freezer said: "There are a lot more children walking to
school and parents are making a point of parking away from the school and
walking in with the children, rather than driving to the school gates."
She added: "It has also made an impact on the traffic congestion with a lot
less cars parking near the school."
It is estimated that the "Stamp Stanley" scheme has removed 200 cars from the
The IEEP said that if people walked one more hour a week, it could mean a
reduction in average weight of up to two stones in a decade.
It also said that the additional walking could displace at least 11 million
tonnes of carbon dioxide from cars.
In addition to the exclusion zones for schools, the report also called for
the government to invest heavily in making Britain's streets more attractive to
Ms Freezer said that the children found the purple shoe-shaped stamping
machines - a reference to the carbon footprint - "attractive" and "novel".
As a result of the project, Millfield Primary School has been selected to
represent England and Northern Ireland in a European environmental competition.
Head teacher Cathy Parkinson said: "The judges were particularly impressed
with the level of work and commitment amongst staff and pupils to tackle
sustainable travel issues, the high success rate of the project within the
school and the benefits experienced by the wider community."
The school's entry will be judged against other schemes submitted by schools
in England, Northern Ireland, Italy, Germany and Spain to the Eco-Schools'
Environment and Innovation project.
The organisation will distribute almost 20,000 euros (£13,500) to winning
schools in the form of a grant, helping them put their ideas into action and
undertake work with the local community.
In May, Millfield Primary School was awarded £500 and a trophy by Norfolk
County Council for its school travel plans including the Stamp Stanley
Another 11 schools in the county were highly commended by the council for
their plans to improve the environment and pupils' health. Initiatives praised
included "Bike Breakfasts" and "Traffic Free Fridays" schemes.