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How Lambeth’s students are creating cleaner air
(12/08/21)
Posted by : Alex Pang, Youth Engagement Officer
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Since joining Global Action Plan earlier this year, I have had the privilege of working with 40 primary students, in four eco-groups from three schools located in Lambeth, London, through the Green Influencers Scheme run by the Ernest Cook Trust.


These eco-groups are part of a wider project called the Lambeth Schools Air Quality Programme, which aims to improve air quality in a school’s environment. Two schools, St Andrew’s Church of England Primary School and St Mark’s Church of England Primary School, have chosen to focus on tackling cars idling in their school community, and the other school, Henry Fawcett Primary School, has chosen to promote Active Travel.


I have been amazed by the students’ maturity in learning about air pollution, as well as their creativity and enthusiasm in coming up with ambitious ideas to help raise awareness about the issue. They have all worked hard to produce a range of informative and interesting materials, such as posters, letters, and a video!

 

‘’I have realised I have influence and can make a difference to my community, so I will continue to do work to help the environment and other people’’

 

Student, Henry Fawcett Primary School

 

I’ve also been fortunate to start a fourth group with Henry Fawcett Primary School, focusing on their outdoor spaces. In the short time together, we have begun a gardening club and have managed to grow and eat radishes! While the students weren’t convinced by the taste, they enjoyed the process of planting, watering, and caring for their plant, and all have decided to repeat it over the summer holidays by themselves.


The sessions have been enjoyable for everyone involved, but at times it can be difficult to see the impact of the work. We only meet for one hour a week, and it can also be hard to keep momentum on projects.


However, I can recall a few stand-out moments which remind me that the work I am doing is making a difference and having a positive impact on the students’ and the wider community. For example, on Clean Air Day – Thursday 17th June - the leader of Lambeth Council, Councillor Claire Holland, came to visit to hear what the eco-group had been doing and how the school were tackling air pollution.

 

Cllr Claire Holland at Henry Fawcett School

Three students from the eco-group gave a presentation, explaining what they had been up to, why they thought Clean Air Day was important and why they were running an Active Travel Campaign. The students all stepped up to talk about their work and why tackling air pollution was important.


In another example, after a session on idling and explaining why it was bad, the following week a student shared with me that they were in a car with a relative and asked to turn off the engine. The relative asked why and the student explained and managed to convince them! This was a powerful reminder of how young people can make a difference and can inspire change.


I’m excited to continue with our groups in the new school year where we’ll be focusing on raising awareness of London’s Car Free Day on the 22nd of September and asking the school communities to join us. Working with these groups has been inspiring and it is a joy to see students grow and become more confident. I’m also excited to see how the outdoor group evolves - we’re hoping to plant more fruit and vegetables and improve the school’s natural environment!

 

"When I see people caring for the environment, it makes me feel joyful and I want it to keep happening’’

 

Student from St Mark’s CofE Primary School

 

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