When I haven’t got my DEadlines, LBT, mum or taxi service hats on, I wear a high visibility vest!
All in a good cause, not just so I can be easily spotted by my clients, boss or my children.
The vest allows me to safely, and proudly, run a green and revolutionary project called the Crowlees Hoppa.
I devised the scheme after being a Governor at Crowlees School and becoming aware of the increasing problem of traffic congestion and dangers around primary schools. I was also media spokesperson for national road safety charity Brake and from there developed an interest in helping prevent cruel and preventable death and injury on our roads.
The Crowlees Hoppa is an innovative project, sustainable and expanding. I launched the Hoppa in May 2013 after months of consultation involving the children and parents and enlisting support from the Green Schools Revolution, our local Co-Operative store in Mirfield town centre, Sustrans and Kirklees Council.
From the outset, I surveyed every child at the school (427, aged from four to 11) and discovered that more than 50% travel to school by car BUT most would LIKE TO WALK!
I then surveyed their families and learnt that 38% would consider joining a Walking Bus, 31% would be interested in Car Share and 59% would like to Park & Stride.
However, after researching these projects at other schools, I wasn’t convinced they work. Park & Stride doesn’t offer any incentive to use designated areas as an alternative to parking nearer school. Rotas and routes for Walking Buses are complicated to manage, car share is logistically difficult to set up and still involves cars coming near school.
So, I decided to combine the Park & Stride and Walking Bus ideas and came up with the Hoppa (named after the airport buses which take passengers from terminal to aircraft).
The children were excited about the idea from the word go! I introduced it in a whole school assembly and got the Reception children hopping to win prizes!!!
The Hoppa launched with 14 children and we now have more than 30! Our helpers (parents and grandparents) are DBS-checked and we are insured by Kirklees Council whose Road Safety Officers trained helpers and risk assessed the route. We also adhere to their child / helper ratios.
So what is the Hoppa? It is an original and innovative box-ticker with regard to many of the Government’s key Think! issues: –
- Improving dangerous congestion around schools
- Helping primary children gain ‘real-life’ road awareness
- Allowing primary children to increase their daily exercise
- Helping busy parents work together
- Creating a sustainable alternative to driving to school
- Helping primary children make friends and have fun!
I engaged the whole school in a competition to design a logo for the Hoppa and the winning design was printed on our vests. We had some fantastic entries and the winner was a fabulous green grasshopper – perfect!
I launched with a celebration with invited guests Mirfield and Kirklees Mayors and our MP, music and entertainment from a ‘Pied Piper’ story-teller. The launch featured in all the local papers and I regularly give live interviews on BBC Radio Leeds, talking about the Hoppa and advise other schools. I also chair a Working Party to encourage safe parking and introduce further road safety projects at Crowlees School, working with the Police and Kirklees Council to run action days and the school to run in-school projects to teach the children about road safety.
The Crowlees Hoppa is sustainable and teaches the children lifesaving road safety skills, promotes fitness and friendships, moves cars away from the school entrance, allows families to work together and gives parents extra time to get to work.
It’s a win-win formula for everyone and I feel very privileged to join my fellow Hoppa helpers and 30 happy smiling children walking safely to school with their friends every day, come rain or shine!
Thank you for reading. If you would like to find out more about the Hoppa, please drop me a line.