Belmont School gears up for event on 22nd March to launch campaign for safe and healthy routes to school

Parents, children and local residents from Belmont School, are working with environmental charity Groundwork Thames Valley to prepare to launch a project for safer and healthier routes to the school.

The launch event on Friday 22nd March at 2pm at Belmont School will provide an opportunity for pupils, teachers, parents, local businesses and residents to take part in a range of fun activities focused on the theme of safe routes to school.

The afternoon will be packed full of activities for pupils to take part in including pedestrian road safety training, cycle competency, keep fit and "Debra the Zebra" guided walk around Belmont Island. Parents and the local community will have the chance to take part in the 'Planning for Real' consultation to help identify where the danger areas are on routes to school. The Theme of the Afternoon is 'Stranded on Belmont Island' and pupils will be dressing up as castaways and sending out a balloon SOS.

The aim of the project is to support a shift from school related journeys by private cars towards walking, cycling and public transport, by increasing the independence and road sense of pupils and contribute to a greater perception of their personal safety by both pupils, parents and the wider community.

"Belmont School has seen an increase in traffic problems over the years as concerns over safety inhibit pupils from walking or cycling to school," comments from Dave Elmer, Teacher at Belmont School and Chair of the Safe & Healthy Routes Steering Group.

He added, "This project provides us with a fantastic opportunity to address these issues and work with the whole community to find a solution to enable our children to walk and cycle to school in a safe and confident manner."

"Safe & Healthy Routes to School" is a partnership project between LB Hounslow, Groundwork, West London Health Promotion Agency (WLHPA) and Belmont School. This builds on Hounslow's "Safe and Healthy Routes to School" programme, which has been running since 2000.

As part of the "Safe & Healthy Routes to School" project Groundwork Thames Valley is working with teaching staff to deliver workshops based on travelling to school. By involving the whole school, Groundwork's education workshops help to educate pupils in road safety, pedestrian training, environmental impact of traffic, gathering evidence and working with LB Hounslow to develop a physical improvement plan with highway engineers.

Groundwork is also helping pupils plot travel surveys and create 3D model maps of the area to be used as part of "Planning for Real" consultations with local residents, businesses, pupils and parents to map the routes to school and identify the danger hot spots. These consultations are taking place at Belmont School on Monday 18th March 3-4.30 pm and Friday 22nd March 2-3pm.

Groundwork Thames Valley, Senior Community Officer Claire Denby added, "We recognise that for pupils to realise the benefits of walking and cycling to school we need to work with the whole community to create a safe environment for school journeys."

Kate Jeziernik from the West London Health Promotion Agency praised Belmont School for joining the scheme and said that the success that had been seen in other areas can be repeated in Chiswick.

The "Safe and Healthy Routes to School" project is also being rolled out in Grove Park School - look out for its event on Monday 22 April 2002.

Groundwork Thames Valley is an independent charity, committed to social, economic and environmental regeneration. Projects focus on building stronger neighbourhoods, training, stimulating enterprise, integrating the economy and the environment and realising young people's potential. The Trust works in partnership with government, local authorities, businesses and the local community..

WLHPA is a member of the "Safe and Healthy Routes to School" Steering Group. It provides specialist support and advice to the Hounslow project including supporting the schools enrolled in the project through resource provision and policy development.

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