School is class act for sustainable travel

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Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Primary has become the first school in Crawley to achieve the Sustrans Gold School Mark award.

The award, which is an initiative of Crawley Borough Council and the charity Sustrans, encourages pupils to cycle, walk, or scoot to school.

It was made possible through the commitment of the school head teacher, Mr Melia, and the school Bike It champion, Mrs De Lange.

Working together with a dedicated Sustrans Bike It officer the school gathered a wealth of evidence that is required to achieve this challenging award.

An awards assembly was held on Wednesday October 17, attended by the Mayor of Crawley, borough councillors Geraint Thomas and Peter Smith, and Sustrans staff.

Celebrations continued after the awards assembly with a delivery officer Bike It Pat conducting a Dr Bike safety inspection of bikes at school and a static bike challenge where 3.3 miles were sprinted out by a group of Year Six children during break time. The pupil who achieved the fastest speed (32 mph) won himself a bike computer.

The school is planning a BMX fun day and also a bicycle decoration day, highlighting the importance of high visibility in conjunction with Diwali and fireworks.

James Cleeton, Sustrans England South director said: “I congratulate everyone involved in this marvellous achievement – the Gold School Mark award is an outstanding recognition of a school’s commitment to active travel and in encouraging children, parents and the wider community to make the choice to walk, cycle or scoot. The health benefits of having a more active school community are well- documented and broad-ranging. “Incorporating physical activity in schools is not only good for our environment, but it is also a social activity that can help young people by boosting friendships and combating stress or loneliness.”

Mayor Carlos Castro said: “There is clearly a desire from people in the local community who want to choose to walk and cycle more and programmes like this one which encourage families to travel more actively can really help.”

Geraint Thomas, said: “The School Mark program is an exciting initiative to help improve the environment outside of schools as well as encouraging families to walk, cycle or scoot to school. Initiatives like this benefit the community as a whole.”

Peter Smith said: “It’s encouraging that there was such a positive response from everyone at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Primary. They have worked hard but had a lot of fun too and this award is well deserved.”

More info on the Sustrans Bike It programme can be found here at: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-services/our-expertise/travel-behaviour-change-schools

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