Top Tips to Stay Healthy on the School Run

1. Park it, and take the alternative!

Hoof it!

Rule number one to help reduce emissions and keep your kids healthy is to walk the distance instead of taking the car. Research carried out by Sustrans shows that by 2050 it is predicted that 70% of girls and 55% of boys will be overweight or obese, but a short walk to school each day is easy, free and could lower your child’s risk of obesity.

Plan your route together in advance, finding quieter roads wherever possible. You can also accompany your child for a few days and as they gain confidence, gradually reduce how far you go – this teaches kids the value of exercise and important road safety tips!

On your bike!

As children get a little older, and are practicing for their cycling proficiency tests in school, it’s important to get them used to road safety while on their bikes. This isn’t only good for experience near roads, it also reduces dangerous emissions from cars. With Over 72,000 children being treated for asthma in direct relation to vehicle emissions, don’t underestimate the benefits of cycling to school!

In 2010, Sustrans released a report which stated nearly half of children surveyed wanted to cycle to school, but only 4% were allowed to – this mainly came down to parent’s road safety concerns. Here are some tips to help satisfy parent’s concerns while cycling to school:

  • Practice pre-planned journeys during quieter times like weekends or evenings.
  • Make sure your child is aware of cycling safety rules, especially when passing busier junctions or roads.
  • Talk to other parents to organise a walking or cycling group so children can accompany each other on the school run.

2. Carpool school run

If you live in a catchment area too far away to walk in which there are are several families from your child’s school, organise a carpool. Not only does this teach younger children important social skills and builds confidence, it can reduce the harmful emissions from 3 cars, to 1 car. Talk to your school about pulling together groups of parents in the same area to organise school runs.

10 times more people die in the UK because of illnesses related to vehicle pollution, than are killed by road traffic accidents each year. Tackle both of these issues while protecting your child’s health by giving some little ones a lift to school!

3. Talk to Switch Off and Breathe

Does your school have a problem with idling cars and buses? If so please report it to us. We can raise awareness in many ways, such as the placement of anti-idling signage.

We also provide a range of services to discourage idling around schools and encourage parents, and schools, who believe they have a problem with car pollution to get in contact with us:

  • We can provide a service to put up ‘Switch Off’ signs where needed.
  • We can provide leaflets advising people of the reasons why they should be switching off their engines.
  • We can provide free stationary on request to raise awareness.
  • We can attend information evenings or functions to teach children, teachers and parents the importance of reducing emissions around schools.

A child’s lungs are constantly developing and working much faster than an adult’s, therefore they are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution. You would not subject a child to cigarette smoke, yet vehicle emissions are just as dangerous and most drivers will park with their engines running outside of schools. It is harmful. Switch off your engine and let the children breathe.

Reducing emissions, and improving the health of children across Scotland is our number one priority, but we can’t accomplish this without the help of parents and teachers. If you would like more information on how you can help, get in touch with Switch Off and Breathe today.

switchoffandbreathe

About switchoffandbreathe

The East Central Scotland Vehicle Emissions Partnership (VEP) is a partnership between four councils (East Lothian, Mid Lothian, West Lothian, and Falkirk Councils) which has been running for over a decade with funding provided from the Scottish Government. We actively deal with reports from members of the public who identify vehicles which are excessively smoky and also vehicles sitting stationary with their engines running unnecessarily. The remit of the VEP is to help reduce vehicle emissions by encouraging drivers to switch off their engine whenever possible, educating the general public by the provision of free vehicle emissions testing, handling idling complaints and more.

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