Pupils walk the walk to earn Green Flag

Donnacha O'Callaghan joking around with Lena Pochopien at the  launch of the RSA walking bus at Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh, Bishopstown, Cork. Pic: Dan Linehan

Rugby star Donncha O’Callaghan walked the walk yesterday for a green school with the wow factor.

The towering Munster second row said he was delighted to help the students of Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh girls school in Bishopstown, Cork, launch its Walk on Wednesday (WOW) “walking bus” initiative.

He told the students, including his niece, Rachel O’Callaghan, that walking is good for their physical and mental health, and he threw down the environmental gauntlet to the nearby boys’ school, where he was taught.

“The girls are a step ahead now. The boys will have to catch up,” he joked.

The project is part of the school’s bid for a fourth Green Flag under An Taisce’s Green Schools Travel flag programme which aims to encourage students, parents and teachers to walk, cycle, park and stride, use public transport or carpool instead of using the private car on the school run.

The programme helps cut down on traffic congestion around schools, promote exercise, and lower fuel costs for parents.

Pupils walk the walk to earn Green Flag

At the launch of the RSA walking bus at Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh, Bishopstown, Cork, Donnacha O’Callaghan with fifth class pupil Saoirse Brazil Kearney. Pic: Dan Linehan

The school’s green schools co-ordinator Ber Lynch said: “Hopefully parents and children will enjoy the WOW days so much, they will build active travel into their daily journey to school.”

Principal Claire O’Sullivan said: “With most schools in the Bishopstown area working on the travel theme as part of this programme, we expect the impact on the wider community to be immense.”

An Taisce Green Schools travel officer Sandy McGroarty said the percentage of journeys to school by car has increased from 19% in 1991 to 54% in 2011.

“As the effects of climate change become more and more apparent, the need to reduce our carbon emissions has never been more important,” she said.

An Taisce has been working on the Department of Transport-funded green schools travel programme since Sept 2008, with over 1,300 primary and secondary schools countrywide signed up.

Since 2008, 724 schools have been awarded the Green Flag for Travel. The programme reached record levels last year with over 90% of schools in Ireland — up to 800,000 students and teachers — involved.

An Taisce said the participating schools saved over €€8m in waste, energy, water, and transport fuel costs during the last school year.

* www.greenschoolsireland.org

Patrons of second-level schools to open in 2016

- Carrigaline, Co Cork: Edmund Rice Schools Trust and Educate Together (two schools of 600 students each);
- Midleton/Carrigtwohill, Co Cork: Cork Education and Training Board (ETB)/Catholic Bishop of Cloyne (1,000-student school);
- Balbriggan, Dublin: Educate Together (700 students);
- Ballinteer/Stepaside, Dublin: Educate Together (1,000 students);
- Kingswood, Dublin: Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB (1,000 students);
- Celbridge, Co Kildare (2015 opening): Educate Together/Kildare and Wicklow ETB, subject to confirmation of enough parental support (up to 1,000 students);
- North Wicklow: Educate Together (1,000 students);
- Kingscourt, Co Cavan: Cavan & Monaghan ETB (400 students).


Lifestyle

Aileen Lee meets Christina Kenny - co-founder and design director of Lamb Design - to talk about her work and inspirations.Christina Kenny of Lamb Design: ‘I love bringing the outside in and inside out’

Tyrone designer Sharon Wauchob on her career and the worth of luxury fashion. By Paul McLauchlan.From Marc Jacobs to her own label, Tyrone designer Sharon Wauchob on her life in fashion

The recent sentencing of two teenage boys for the murder of Ana Kriégel has once again brought the issue of pornography into public discourse. The details of the case, which are finally coming into public knowledge, illuminate some very worrying trends that are pervasive in the modern adolescent world and as parents and indeed as a society we can no longer languish in complacency.Learning Points: Hardcore porn can pollute our children’s minds

If children are confident in interacting with others it takes away so much stress and social anxiety for them. Not too long ago, my daughter Joan and I were out with friends at a restaurant and we wanted extra water and a few other bits and Joan volunteered to go up and ask the waiter for them. My friend was really surprised at this and said that none of her children would willingly do that.Mum’s the word: We should look for chances to strengthen our kids’ social skills

More From The Irish Examiner