Scoil Raifteirí in Castlebar along with 19 other Mayo schools are in the throes of preparing to receive their fourth green flags. The latest addition to the Green Flag project is the Green Schools travel initiative which was piloted in the east and is being rolled out in Mayo for the first time to 20 schools who have already received the first three green flags.
The launch of the Mayo Green Schools travel initiative was held at Scoil Raifteirí where the green schools committee have been busy collating data and carrying out surveys to determine the travelling arrangements of children who attend the school.
The school, in an effort to encourage children and parents to adopt a ‘park and stride’ policy, have identified four drop off points where parents can park their cars, a short distance from the school, and walk their children the remainder of the journey. While reducing fuel bills for parents due to the shorter journey, and helping to eliminate congestion outside the school during peak times, this policy will also help pupils gain some valuable exercise in the morning when they will also benefit from the fresh air.
Students, parents and teachers of Scoil Raifteirí are aiming to increase sustainable modes of travel on the school run and reduce the use of the private car.
Eva Gannon has been appointed by An Taisce as the Green Schools travel officer for Mayo and she will be working closely with the 20 schools to ensure they meet the criteria to obtain their fourth flags.
According to Ms Gannon Ireland is a world leader in the Green Schools project with more than 2,000 having obtained green flags. “The main aim of An Taisce’s Green Schools programme is to encourage pupils, teachers and parents to walk, cycle, park ‘n’ stride and car pool instead of using the private car on the school run,” she explained. “Initiatives planned for the year ahead include walking buses, WOW (walk on Wednesday ) days, COW (cycle on Wednesdays ), cycle trains, park ‘n’ stride projects, promotion of car pooling, surveys and competitions.”
Speaking about the Green Schools travel programme, Sharon Cameron, environment awareness officer, Mayo County Council, stated: “This is an excellent next step in the Green Schools programme. The Green Schools programme in Mayo has been a true success story and with 90 schools flying the green flag we are leaders in the programme nationally. We are delighted that our schools, which have achieved so much so far in the programme, now have the opportunity to take on the challenge of the travel theme. We commend all our students, teachers and parents for their ongoing commitment and enthusiasm for the Green Schools Programme.”
Gearóid Ó Marcaigh, Green Schools co-ordinator in Scoil Raifteirí, said they are busy preparing for fourth Green Flag. “Tá Scoil Raifteirí gnóthach ag obair chun an ceathrú Bratach Glas a fháil. To earn this fourth Green Flag, everyone in the school is working on the theme of transport. Táimid ag iarraidh gearradh siar ar an méid atáimid ag brath ar an gcarr. Our surveys indicate that a lot of children arrive to school each day by car. We hope to encourage more people to walk or cycle to school, in a safe and responsible manner.”
Schools in Mayo are kicking off their Green School year by participating in International Walk to School Month during October.