Air pollution is an issue that affects us all but is especially damaging to children. The Mayor of London’s School Air Quality Audit highlighted the worrying pollution levels that pupils are exposed to. These audits included recommendations on how to reduce pollution. One such recommendation was to increase green infrastructure around the school grounds.
This is because plants and trees help to absorb and block some of the pollution coming from the busy roads nearby. Mapping for Change has teamed up with Trees for Cities and Lancaster University to plant healthy air in primary schools across the capital.
Trees for Cities have raised enough funds to work with four schools in the first year. They have strategically redesigned the outside space to introduce more plants and trees to the playground and install green screens to block some of the pollution. Trees for Cities are consulting with experts at Lancaster University so that they can select the most effective vegetation in reducing pollution. In tandem, Mapping for Change and Lancaster University are monitoring the effects of this greening-up on the air quality. We are also running school workshops and sharing the results in order to encourage behaviour change.
Mapping for Change is working with pupils and teachers to monitor nitrogen dioxide levels around each school using citizen science. Together, we have installed diffusion tubes at 10 locations around the school which will be changed over by the EcoClub every month for 12 months. The results will be added to a bespoke map, along with where the new planting has been introduced and where the pupils spend their time playing or relaxing. Visualising this information on a map and sharing it with pupils, teachers and parents will help to enable better decision making. The map can show cleaner areas where parents should wait at pick-up time or where the children could be more active. We also hope to start the discussion around how parents and pupils can play their part in improving air quality, such as walking to school and not idling in their cars.
Trees for Cities is a UK charity which works to improve lives by planting trees in cities. Dr Kirsti Ashworth, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University is an expert in how the use of our land impacts on air quality. The four schools we are working with are: St Paul’s CE Primary , Christ Church Bentinck C of E Primary, Tudor and Woolmore Primary
Trees for Cities continues to seek funding to work with more polluted London schools because the demand for such a project is overwhelming.
CIVACT is a EU-funded, two-year project which aims to address the lack of civic engagement among hard-to-reach youths in urban areas. The goal is to understand how can we empower young people to become the driving force for change through observing and analysing their neighbourhood’s resources and challenges.
Funded under the Swiss Block Grant, Mapping for Change in collaboration with the Centre for Training and Personal Development MERITUM, the Cultural Authority City of Gardens and Highways 4 Elements carried out a two year training programme in the Silesia region of Poland.
As part of the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme, Mapping for Change were chosen to represent the UK in a learning exchange project with the University of Udine (Italy) and the University of Oulu (Finland).