Bush and Our Lady’s get active travel

Graduation mortar on top of books
Graduation mortar on top of books

With spring just around the corner, and a stretch in the days, schools across Northern Ireland including two in Dungannon, are being encouraged to participate in the Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge to cut down on car congestion at school gates and help boost pupil health and wellbeing.

Bush Primary School and Our Lady’s Primary School have joined the two week Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge which promotes walking, cycling, bus and train travel for the school run instead of car use. It incorporates curriculum-linked resources and encourages schools to develop sustainable travel plans as a way to achieve the internationally recognised Eco-Schools Green Flag Award. 43 schools have already come on board for this year’s Challenge.

Translink’s Ursula Henderson says, “The initiative is a fun way to educate young people about environmental, safety, health and cost benefits of ‘active travel’ modes: “More and more schools are taking up the Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge and making ‘smart moves’ for the journey to school. Last year, 36 schools successfully completed the challenge recording more than 13,427 sustainable journeys. There was a real shift away from car use; 60% of the journeys made during the Challenge were sustainable compared to 41% beforehand.

“We want to build on this success and attract even more challenge participants in 2016/17. We’re encouraging schools to visit www.translink.co.uk/ecoschools/ to download a range of engaging Key Stage 1 – 3 travel challenge classroom resources and get started!

“We also want to highlight the positive health benefits of active travel modes. Independent research shows that people who use sustainable transport for the journey to and from work have a significantly lower BMI and are happier than those who use private transport.

“As well as helping their school achieve the Green Flag Award, the top performing classes and pupils in this year’s challenge will receive travel prizes at a special award ceremony during Bus + Train Week in June. Schools are also being encouraged to submit a #Smartmovers project that demonstrates all the innovative ways pupils have tackled the travel challenge,” said Ursula.

Ruth Van Ry, Eco-Schools Coordinator, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “We are delighted to be supported by Translink in the Eco-Schools ‘Transport’ topic and to be promoting this great Travel Challenge again. This initiative has wide benefits and also connects with the Eco-Schools topics ‘Healthy Living’ and ‘Climate Change’. With so many environmental challenges facing us globally, this is an easy and enjoyable way to make a positive difference. We would ask teachers and parents to support our young enthusiasts in completing this challenge, make a tangible difference to congestion around schools, and get some fresh air in the process!”

For further information click www.translink.co.uk/ecoschools/. Deadline for completed Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge entries is Monday 22nd May 2017. For further information call Eco-Schools on 028 9073 6920.