Students tackle the climate emergency in the Harrogate District

On Friday 18th June, thousands of children in 31 secondary and primary schools across the Harrogate District helped tackle the climate emergency, by taking part in the first Harrogate District Walk to School Day, created by the volunteer-led charity Zero Carbon Harrogate. Instead of their usual car journey, children either walked, cycled, used public transport, or used the ‘park and stride’ option and walked the last mile to their school.

The day was a huge success, with many schools taking headcounts and hoping to be at the top of Zero Carbon Harrogate’s leaderboard for the greatest percentage of students taking part. A huge congratulations to North Stainley Church of England Primary School, who were the primary winners this time, with an impressive 94% of their pupils taking part.

Harrogate Grammar School were delighted to be the secondary school winners and even more schools have pledged to take part in the next Walk to School Day on Friday 8th October for a chance to be the Autumn winner!

Zero Carbon Harrogate’s Event Manager, Fiona Jones, said, “This is such an important event for our community. Often children do not feel they have a voice when it comes to climate change, but a Walk to School Day is something that empowers children to cut their family’s carbon emissions through their own actions.”

The campaign is supported by the Harrogate Borough Council. Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, was at Harrogate Grammar School and Rossett Acre Primary School on Friday morning to welcome students, along with Councillor Phil Ireland, Councillor Paul Haslam, and Professor Neil Coles, Chair of the Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition.

“We all know walking and cycling are healthy and fun ways to get around – particularly if there is a group of you. Leaving the car behind also helps us tackle the climate emergency by reducing pollution and reducing the use of natural resources.

“That is why I wanted to join Zero Carbon Harrogate and the young people taking part in our area’s first Walk to School day. I think it’s a great initiative and I hope it grows from a half-termly event to become part of the regular way school pupils – and the rest of us – tackle short journeys.” Andrew Jones MP

Year 10 students from Harrogate Grammar spoke to Zero Carbon Harrogate about the benefits of using active travel and public transport:

“I try to cycle or walk to places as much as possible to try and cut down my carbon emissions. It helps you get fitter as well,” (Ben)
“It gives me positive energy for the day. You’re out in the fresh air and it’s better than being in the car,” (Zack)
“I normally walk to school, pretty much every day. It just helps me relax.” (Anish)
“Because I live further away I take the bus, which is much better than getting in a car. If everyone on the bus got in their car there would be [higher] carbon emissions.” (Sam)

The students also explain other ways we can lower our carbon footprint and why this is so important:

“At home we tend to switch off lights when they’re not being used.” (Chloe)
“I’ve also been trying this new thing where I eat less red meat.” (Paddy)
“I think we should protect our planet because it’s where we live, it’s where future people are going to live, it’s our home.” (Matthew)