Children help to reimagine school streets
School children at three schools in the Cowley Hill area of St Helens have been giving their views about how streets in the area could be safer and healthier for their journeys to school, as part of a new 'By Ours' community project led by the charity Sustrans, with St Helens Borough Council.
Article date: 2 March 2022
Children at Rivington Primary, St Mary and St Thomas Primary and Cowley International College carried out surveys of their school streets to highlight what they like and what they would like to change. Children highlighted problems with speeding traffic, pavement parking, lack of safe spaces to cross and litter as key issues that affected their streets on the way to and from school.
Businesses and households in the area also recently received a survey through their doors to gather views about what they like and dislike about their neighbourhood. Questions include topics such as safety, accessibility, traffic levels and green space. The survey is also available online at www.by-ours-cowleyhill.org.uk. Local people can respond until 27 February.
Giulia Colafrancesco, By Ours project officer said: "We're very excited to be working with schools in Cowley Hill to find out what matters to local children on their streets.
"Our Big Street Survey allows us to get a child's eye view of the kind of problems that children face on the streets on the way to school and what changes they would like to see. The children always have lots of creative ideas about how to make streets safer and healthier places to walk or play. Small steps to redesign the streets can have a big impact on all our health and play a part in tackling environmental issues too."
Chris Jones, a teacher at St Mary and St Thomas' Primary School in St Helens said: "The kids loved the street design sessions.
"It's quite a busy area where we are, in the town centre. Traffic is an issue, with cars driving quite fast. When we went for a walk and had a look round the children could see the reality of where they live. There are a lot of cars and lorries and pollution is high because of the sheer volume of traffic. There's also not enough green space, away from cars, where children can play."
"It is great that the children can have a say about the area where they live and some creative input into how it looks."
Councillor Andy Bowden, St Helens Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said: "It's great to see the next generation get involved with this project, sharing ideas on how to improve road safety around their schools which will be taken on board as part of the process.
"At St Helens Borough Council, we are making a conscious effort to involve children and young people in matters which concern them - from our junior road safety officer initiative to climate change. Their ideas will help us in our bid to create a better borough for all."
In the By Ours project children carry out a Big Street Survey on the streets in the area. Designers then work with the children on collaborative design workshops to develop creative ideas that could tackle issues raised in the survey. They develop designs based on the workshop results, which are showcased at pop up events for the school and the local community. Everyone gets a chance to feedback on the designs.
Sustrans then works with the local community and the Council to create a plan to implement the finalised designs on the ground.
By Ours works with residents, businesses and schools to improve local streets. The whole community comes together to design a vibrant neighbourhood with cleaner air, where more people walk to shops and services, stop and chat to each other, and children can play out.
By Ours is a partnership project with Sustrans, St Helens Borough Council and Liverpool City Region, funded by the Freshfield Foundation. It is one of three new pioneering community engagement projects in Liverpool City Region that are helping local people take action to deliver safer, healthier streets for everyone.
To contribute to the By Ours Cowley Hill survey (deadline 27 February), and for more information and events look up www.by-ours-cowleyhill.org.uk