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'Cough, cough, engine off!' Crouch End schoolchildren walk out in anti-idling protest

PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 November 2019

Rokesly schoolchildren got behind an anti-idling campaign. Picture: Sam Volpe

Rokesly schoolchildren got behind an anti-idling campaign. Picture: Sam Volpe

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Hundreds of schoolchildren at both Rokesly Junior and Infants schools in Crouch End joined others around Haringey in walking out of classes with gas masks on - and the suport of teachers - to urge drivers passing the school to stop idling.

"Cough, cough, engine off!" Rokesly schoolchildren got behind an anti-idling campaign. Picture: Sam Volpe

Chanting "cough, cough, engine off", pupils from reception to year six got involved in the initiative.

Spearheaded by parents - including Kath Hipwell who lives along the road from school - the idea behind what they've called Masked Crusaders is to encourage those picking up and dropping off children to turn off their cars' engines while they're waiting

Kath told this newspaper: "For us we live so close to the school. We can see the idling engines from home, sitting there for half an hour.

"The point is that it's clearly unnecessary pollution."

Year 5s Florence, Evie, Honor, Jefferson, Louis and Freddie were all behind the Masked Crusaders march. Picture: Sam VolpeYear 5s Florence, Evie, Honor, Jefferson, Louis and Freddie were all behind the Masked Crusaders march. Picture: Sam Volpe

Organised by a group of parents and with the support of Haringey Council and the mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the march is intended to become an annual event.

Kath explained they had created resources other schools could use.

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She added: "If you start thinking about idling, you then start to think about your car use generally.

"The reason we're doing this is in part because it can be too scary to confront idling drivers, but hopefully children might go home and convince their parents now."

Nine-year-old Freddie Collier was among the children enthusiastically involved. He told the Ham&High: "It was fun and it's really important we play our role. This generation will be the one that has to step up. We need change."

Teachers across the school have been passionately supporting the children and their parents.

Year 5 teacher Will Weeks told this newspaper: "As a society we need to make fundamental changes in our behaviour and how we treat the environment. It's disappointing that children feel the need to protest. The government's environmental policy is a shambles."

Another teacher, Hazel Joseph, said it was doubly important because of rising asthma levels. She said: "I'm asthmatic myself, and with the pollution it's not good for their little lungs."

Highgate Primary are another school to have signed up - although their anti-idling event took place earlier in the week. Other schools involved so far include Campsbourne Primary and St Mary's in Hornsey.

To find out more, visit: londonsustainableschools.org/masked-crusaders

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