Two years ago St Mary’s RC Primary School in Chiswick was audited by the Mayor’s Office among the 50 most polluted schools in London. A recent survey by the Times put it on top of the list of the most polluted schools in the whole of Hounslow.
In 2018 a group of parents set out to change all that and turn it into one of the greenest
In September 2018, after an extensive research into ways to tackle air pollution, one of the parents Andrea Carnevali (recently awarded “community champion” by the Hounslow borough), started a crowdfund campaign to build a greeninfrastructure in St Mary’s playground along the brick wall that separates the school to the A4 (which is said to have a flow of at least 80,000 vehicles a day).
- Recent studies have proven that greenwalls can cut pollution by anything between 15% to 50% (as well cutting as sound pollution too). Theywill also provide opportunities for biodiversity through the variety of native plant species (pollinating invertebrates and birds). It will also offer additional educational benefits as well asgeneral and psychological wellbeing for the children and staff alike.
Eventually part of the newly refurbish playground will also be open to the public on week-ends and school holidays to host markets, fairs, etc..
The campaign, backed by our local MP Ruth Cadbury and the Chiswick and Turnham Green councillors, was very successful attracting hundreds of backers and dozens of companies and business alike. In October 2018 the Mayor of London awarded it with £32,000 as “one of London’s best civic initiatives”.
Several celebrities got on board too and sent various video messages endorsing the project: David Dimbleby, Jeremy Paxman, Claudia Winkleman, Emma Thompson among several others.
In less than three month the newly named “Chiswick Oasis” raised almost £100,000, was featured on every possible media outlet, on TV, from Sky News, ITV, C5, on the radio (BBC 2, Radio 5 Live, LBC) and on newspapers like The Metro, the Independent, the Daily Mail and recently twice on the Times, including on its front page.
The money raised and the media and celebrity attention allowed the project to broaden its horizons.
Today these are some of the achievements by the Chiswick Oasis:
- A 126 metres long living wall featuring over 12,000 plants in the playground.
- A partnership with ARUP: they will also help creating a model out of this to roll across other schools.
- A partnership with Enjoy Work. They will help and promote the project as well as provide educational training on recycling and landscaping.
- New £4,500 air purifying units are about to be placed inside each classrooms: they will reduce pollution inside the classroom by 92% (the first one has just been installed this week).
- We’ve just re-painted our ground floor at St Mary’s (including the kitchen and dining area) with a special “air cleaning” paint from Airlite. Early results from the past few weeks are truly astonishing showing a reduction of NO2 (among other things) but more than 90%
- In order to encourage more parents to leave their cars at home and walk to school (or use bikes/public transport) we’ve launched a #NoCarsFriday initiative, which has had the full support of the Hounslow Council and local businesses alike. As we are about to launch the 6thevent, more and more schools are joining this initiative every week.
- We’re started talking to the Council about closing a section of our road to school to traffic during drop off and pick up times.
- We’ll be running Forest School classes, recycling classes, ecology classes all towards making our children more aware about the environment.
- We’re working closely with the local councillors to organise clean up days along the streets of Chiswick to raise even more awareness with our children about social and environmental issues.
- We have been adding more plants inside the school and will be increasing the number of plants soon.
- Next Autumn, aided by Trees for Cities, we’ll be adding a further £30,000 worth of green infrastructure, including an edible garden, more plant and hedges.
- We’re developing a new massive scheme to green up the A4 and to build a hedge along it, to protect pedestrian and cyclists from toxic fumes of cars.
- We’re producing documents and booklets with everything we’ve learnt and achieved from this project (tips and mistakes) so that other schools can learn from it and hopefully implement some of what we did too.
- We’re campaigning to include the A4 in the ULEZ from 2021 (currently the A4 is going to be exempted, despite the fact that 9 schools are right next to it).
The Chiswick Oasis Launch
On the 29thof Junewe are having a grand launch of the Chiswick Oasis at the site of St Mary’s R C Primary School, at the end of Duke Road in Chiswick.
There will be games for children (bouncy castles etc..) free classes for adults and children alike (meditation, yoga, dances, etc…), food and drinks offered by parents and businesses around Chiswick, bands playing, choirs and entertainment of all kind, and all in the theme of “sustainability” and “clean air”.
There will be a huge media presence as celebrities, the Mayor of London, the Mayor of Hounslow, the Head of the Council, our local MP and various other politicians and councillors have all confirmed they’ll be attending too.
The event will start at 11:00 and go on into the evening until 6.30pm.
If you want to take part at the launch please email us as soon as possible.
The Chiswick Oasis will be an area which eventually will be open to the public during holidays and week-ends when the school is closed. A place to host markets, fairs and exhibitions aimed at drawing people in an enhance the sense of community.
For more photos please check
To see the videos relating to the campaign, including news, and celebrity endorsement click here: https://vimeopro.com/user27351013/chiswickoasis