CHILDREN are being urged to go green to get to school by a new £5million project.
Wearside is backing the Schools Go Smarter programme, launched in the North East by David Miliband MP, designed to get more young people cycling, walking or taking public transport to school.
Backing the scheme, cyclists from Farringdon Community Primary School got on their bikes and rode to Mr Miliband’s South Shields constituency for the start of the project.
Schools Go Smarter is a Tyne and Wear-wide range of green travel projects aimed at primary and secondary school children and their parents and carers, paid for by a grant from the Department of Transport as well as funding from councils.
Among the projects on offer to schools are cycle training for nursery-aged children, grants for school cycle sheds, child pedestrian training and school walking competitions.
Coun James Blackburn, Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for attractive and inclusive city, said: “We are delighted to support this initiative which will help complement and promote the activities we already have in place.
“Providing the right kind of support and encouragement is vital if we are to get more young people cycling, walking or using public transport to get to school every day.”
Mr Miliband said: “All these projects have a simple aim, to get young people out of the car and go to and from school by foot, bike, bus or Metro with their parents.
“Increasing the numbers of green school runs will help the Tyne and Wear economy by reducing traffic jams, improve our environment by cutting pollution and help our children and their parents and carers stay fit and healthy.”
Schools Go Smarter projects will run until March 2015 and will be delivered by the Tyne and Wear local authorities as well as national charities, Sustrans and Living Streets.
Coun David Wood, chairman of the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, said: “Walking, cyling and taking public transport to and from school is good for young people, good for our economy and good for the environment.
“These projects underline how small initiatives, for example holding bike breakfasts for kids who cycle to school, can encourage a lot more young people to get on their bikes.”