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As part of the Youth Travel Ambassador programme, high school students across Greater Manchester have been invited to present ideas to encourage active travel across the region.

Delivered by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) Capability Fund, the Youth Travel Ambassador (YTA) programme aims to give high school students the skills and confidence to address transport issues affecting their school community.

As part of the programme, teams of six to-twelve students were appointed from each participating school.

They attended a series of workshops which aimed to increase their knowledge of the benefits of active travel, the barriers and issues people may face in travelling this way, as well as understanding what a behaviour change campaign is.

The students were given the opportunity to gather data on transport issues and barriers affecting their school and used this data to devise and implement their own behaviour change campaigns, targeting their fellow peers.

The campaigns were then pitched to a panel of judges at an interschool ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitching event. Each school who took part gained a £500 grant to implement their ideas including ideas about walking competitions, cycling clubs and training, and no car days.

Panellists included Richard Nickson from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), Jess Simons from Greater Sport, Charlotte McHugh from Living Streets and Nick Butler from Modeshift.

Richard Nickson, Programme Director for Cycling and Walking at TfGM, said: “It was great to be a panel member for the programme and hear all of the fantastic pitches.

“The students had excellent ideas on how to make cycling and walking more accessible for their school community and we are delighted that this programme gives the students the opportunity to put their ideas into real action.   

“The programme is a great step in the right direction to help make Greater Manchester become a true walking and cycling city-region and help us to achieve our targets of one million more sustainable journeys taken daily by 2040.”

Hawkley Hall High School in Wigan devised a ‘No Car Day’ campaign encouraging students to walk or cycle to school. Those who did walk or cycle to school would be given a raffle ticket and entered into a prize draw to win one of many £25 vouchers.

Matt Klinck, Headteacher at Hawkley Hall High School, said: “The programme has been valuable to our school and students involved have benefited greatly from the opportunity to research and collect information about traffic impact in their community. The students have gained confidence by presenting their ideas and will be presenting again to our governing body later this month.

“As a school we are implementing a ‘No Car’ strategy before the end of the summer term. It has certainly made us all think about the impact of traffic on the area adjacent to our school.”

Students from Wellacre Academy in Flixton had the idea to focus on the health benefits of using active travel methods to travel to school.

Mrs Eagling, Youth Travel Ambassador Lead and Mathematics Teacher at Wellacre Academy, said: “The students spoke clearly and passionately about the issues of congestion and pollution and although they were nervous, the judges were really impressed with their presentation skills and their teamwork.

“All their hard work and a great performance paid off as the judges awarded Wellacre’s Ambassadors the prize of £500, which will fund their campaign in school.”

Other schools that took part in the programme were Denton Community College, North Chadderton School, The Radclyffe School, Rivington & Blackrod High School, and William Hulme’s Grammar School.

The next round of the Youth Travel Ambassador programme will start in September and run until Summer 2023. The closing date for applications is Friday 17 June. Schools can apply by requesting and returning an application form via active.travel@tfgm.com.