The idea to develop and build an educational resource with an interactive story book, animations and digital games has been awarded a government grant of £103,770 from the Air Quality Grant Scheme run by Defra - the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs.
The project is being undertaken by MidKent’s Environmental Protection Team, where Maidstone Borough Council works in partnership with Tunbridge Wells and Swale.
Cllr Derek Mortimer Chair of the Communities, Housing and Environment Committee at Maidstone Borough Council said:
“This new project will allow us to build on our previous work, the digital campaign will help to educate children and encourage healthier day-to-day behaviour.
“We know children are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of air pollution so we've already been running a Clean Air for Schools campaign for several years. This has involved environmental health staff visiting local primary schools to speak to pupils and encourage No Idling Zones around school gates. It's great news that we've been awarded government funding for this project.”
The ultimate aim of the new project is to improve air quality and the resource will encourage children to learn and understand a series of key messages which in turn will prompt them to change their behaviour and persuade the adults in their lives to do the same.
For example, children will learn how much air pollution is created by a stationary vehicle with its engine left running and will be given the tools to let the grown ups know they need to change their behaviour and switch off their engines at the right times.
The resource will use the fun features of online learning that children are already familiar with from lockdown home schooling to teach what air pollution is, why it is bad for everyone’s health, how it can be reduced and the benefits of cutting air pollution.
MidKent Environmental Protection Team also partnered with Canterbury on the project. Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding, Leader of Canterbury City Council, said:
“We all know our children learn so much more when they are having fun so the combination of the technology they are increasingly used to, interaction and gaming to teach them about the best ways of improving air quality is absolutely perfect.
“Added to that, pester power has always been one of the best ways of getting adults to understand the consequences of their actions so this scheme is bound to succeed and be emulated by others.”
It is hoped to have the resource ready for testing within six months.
As well as the government grant announced on 9 March financial support for the project will come from all the Kent district authorities.