The fear of air pollution is preventing a generation of children from walking to school, according to Living Streets.
A new survey published to mark the start of 2019 Walk to School Week (20-24 May) suggests 40% of parents of 4-11 year-olds are concerned about the levels of air pollution around their child’s school.
More broadly, 65% of respondents expressed concern about the effect of air pollution on their child’s health – a 17% year-on-year rise.
Concerns are significantly higher for parents in London, with 68% worried about levels of air pollution around schools, and the health implications.
Living Streets says that while air pollution is preventing families from walking to school, driving to school makes air quality worse and exposes children to even more pollution inside the car.
Jenni Wiggle, senior director at Living Streets, said: “This research shows that we’re all becoming more aware of the dangers of air pollution on our health.
“What’s concerning is that parents are put off doing the one thing which could drastically improve the air quality around their child’s school.”
Swapping four wheels for two feet
Walk to School Week, which takes place annually as part of National Walking Month, aims to showcase how walking can benefit the whole community as well as improve individual wellbeing.
Jenni Wiggle said: “Walk to School Week is a great way for families to give walking to school a go and see how it could fit into their day.
“We hope to encourage as many families as possible to swap four wheels for two feet during Walk to School Week and see what difference it makes to their health and happiness.”
Living Streets has also renewed its call for cars to be banned from school gates at pick up and drop off times.
The charity has launched its School Streets toolkit to help parents who want to stop cars being driven and parked dangerously around their child’s school.
Jenni Wiggle added: “Walking to school is a positive action parents can take to help clean up our air.
“We know this isn’t an easy option for all parents which is why we’re launching our School Streets toolkit to help make the walk to school an easier choice for everyone.”