With Glasgow's Low Emission Zone introduced at the end of last year, it's been the ideal time to involve city youngsters in an exciting art project about air pollution, which has seen schools secure colourful banners for outside display.
The initiative, led by the environmental agency SEPA with support from partner organisations Cycling Scotland and Living Streets; saw primary school pupils design posters suggesting ways to improve air quality around their school and in the wider environment.
SEPA provided a national teaching package to support the learning and inspire the children to come up with creative ideas. As inspiration for the designs, the pupils were encouraged to think about active travel opportunities such as walking or cycling to school, discouraging vehicle idling, as well as Glasgow's new Low Emission Zone.
Two winning designs from each school have been made into large, vibrant display banners, much to the delight of the pupils whose creative efforts not only showcase artistic talent but also their understanding of the environmental risks to human health from pollution and how they can personally contribute to better air quality.
Gail Palmarini, Head Teacher at Caldercuilt Primary School and Nursery Class said; "The children were very excited to create artwork about ways air quality could be improved, both in their community and across the wider environment. The standard of work produced was fantastic and it was really difficult to choose the two designs that were converted into banners. Vibrant and thoughtful designs by Sophie (P7b) and Jazmine (P2) now take pride of place outside our school and act as a reminder to others of the benefits, especially to children, of clean air."
Rosanna Gallone, Teacher at St Angela's Primary School said; "Our children are keen environmentalists and the importance of clean air has been reflected in their wonderfully creative artwork. They really enjoyed the experience and the standard of work reflecting how air pollution could be tackled was fantastic to see. Neve (P5b) and Aiza (P3b) were both delighted that their designs were made into banners and are now displayed for everyone to see outside St Angela's. "
Councillor Anna Richardson, Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction said; "Our youngsters are clearly very passionate about their environment and the art they've created shows a keen appreciation for the benefits of clean air. We know that the health of the young can be disproportionately affected by poor air quality and so we remain committed to reducing pollution through many initiatives including our trailblazing Low Emission Zone, bus priority measures and projects that encourage and support active travel".
Dr Colin Gillespie, Principal Air Scientist at SEPA commented; "Our work with Glasgow City Council has proven to be a real success in promoting the issues of air quality. Pupils have been really engaged with the project. We were very impressed with the quality of the posters, and it was very gratifying to see the level of understanding of the key issues that they displayed. Our work with schools has highlighted the fact that pupils really care about their environment, and have real concerns about air pollution. They have shown that we all have a role to play at improving our environment."
Kath Brough, Head of Behaviour Change at Cycling Scotland added; "Cycling Scotland is delighted to support SEPA's EEA schools project, promoting walking and cycling as the healthiest, cheapest and greenest ways to get to and from school. The impactful banners, designed by school pupils, will remind pupils, parent / carers, teachers and staff of the small changes we can all make to improve the quality of the air we all breathe."
Rebecca Simpson, Project Manager from Living Streets Scotland said: "More children walking to school means fewer cars around our school gates, helping to reduce congestion and the levels of toxic air our children breathe. Being physically active can also help get those creative juices flowing, as these fantastic banners from these keen walkers show."
Plans are also in place to have designs by children from Caldercuilt, St Vincent's and St Angela's primary schools projected onto iconic Glasgow buildings later this month to mark Clean Air Day which Glasgow is supporting with a free event in George Square on 20 June dedicated to air quality.
John Bynorth, Policy and Communications Officer at Environmental Protection Scotland who are co-ordinating Clean Air Day activities in Scotland said: "These beautiful pieces of artwork by the school pupils are a powerful way of informing people about how they care about the quality of air we breathe. The projections from some of Glasgow's best known buildings aim to make people stop and think twice about using their car in the city centre or for shorter trips - such as the school run or to the shops - and consider walking, cycling or using public transport.