A trio of Canterbury schools have been raising awareness of the impact of second-hand smoke on children, following a competition by pupils to design signs for the school gates.
Parkside Community Primary School, St Stephen’s Junior School and St Johns CoE Primary School took part in the project led by the Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health, Graham Gibbens, who is also the KCC ward councillor for Canterbury City North East.
Pupils were encouraged to design posters which call for “smoke-free school gates” and the winning sign will now be displayed near school entrances. The non-smoking demand cannot be legally enforced but is used to encourage a change in behaviour.
The winning design was by nine-year-old Kadie Marsh from St Johns Church of England Primary School. She said: “I haven’t won anything like this before so I was very pleased with my design and I hope it helps parents and children, I was worried about smoking around children who suffer from asthma.” Her Headteacher Jo Warnock said: “This was a great opportunity to encourage our pupils to express their own views and wishes for our school. Pupil voice can be very powerful and we are looking forward to seeing the impact of the pupils’ hard work.”
Parkside Community Primary School Headteacher Ann Beaven added: “We discuss healthy living as part of the curriculum but being part of the competition gave us the opportunity to put this into context and discuss a real life situation. This always makes the learning come alive.”
Graham Gibbens used his member grant to support the scheme which includes a set of specially produced and installed signs, plus a £100 contribution towards the cost of art materials for each of the three schools taking part. He said: “Last year we promoted smoke-free playgrounds in the Canterbury area alongside the city council and now this partnership with local schools is another step in our ambition to provide a smoke-free environment for children and their families to enjoy.
“We want to help protect children from the effects of second-hand smoke, and reduce the number of children who start smoking after being influenced by those who do. Although the scheme is voluntary, we hope it will prove popular with parents and carers on the school run and we would hope to repeat it at sites across the county.”
Headteacher Stuart Pywell from St Stephens School said: “We were delighted to be involved in this project and anything that promotes healthy living and encouraging parents to be involved is worth backing. We were really pleased with all the designs and are looking to create an even bigger sign to put up as it has such a strong message.”