In 2018, our Bristol team ran “pollution solutions” workshops for over 800 children in primary schools and Scout groups across the region.
At some of the events, the children had time to write excellent letters to local politicians to explain what they had learnt about air pollution in Bristol, and their suggestions for how they thought the city and region should address the problem and make a healthier, happier city.
We sent the letters to the Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, as well as the West of England Combined Authority Mayor Tim Bowles. We copied in the local councillors and MP for each school. For the project team, it felt important to show the children that school projects don’t have to be “just pretend,” and that there were real ways they could have their voices heard and participate in local democracy. We also wanted them to understand that air pollution is a problem with solutions, and it shouldn’t feel intractable or overwhelming.
The ClairCity team are very pleased on behalf of the children to have received responses from politicians. These have been shared back with the children via their teachers, and we hope this will show the children that it was worthwhile doing the hard work of making their letters informative and persuasive.
You can see the responses from Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol:
Tim Bowles, West of England Mayor:
Kerry McCarthy MP:
Cllr Nicola Beech:
Cllr Claire Hiscott:
We also received an email response from the office of Darren Jones MP, congratulating the work of the children and the project.
If you would like your school or youth group to get involved all of the materials for the activity are available for free to download. They are designed for ages 8-11 but some of the activities would be easily adaptable for older or younger children.
We haven’t carried out an in-depth analysis of the children’s suggestions, but overall more support for scootering to school was a strong favourite, and action to discourage grown ups from using their cars was also a priority. Through scoring and playing their own version of the top trumps game, many children decided that cheaper public transport and electric cars would help. There were also some exciting ideas around hoverboards and futuristic non-polluting fuels, magnetic propulsion and driverless cars. The future of Bristol looks bright, if these children are anything to go by.
Corra Boushel, UWE Bristol, ClairCity