Children, campaigners and Great Ormond Street Hospital mark Clean Air Day with magical play street


The world’s most famous children’s hospital has teamed up with
air pollution campaigners The Air Team to close the road outside the hospital and create a
spectacular ‘play street’ for Clean Air Day 2019.

Together with children from local schools, they have transformed Great Ormond Street into a
rainbow themed play zone – a temporary theme park in the heart of London.
The innovative ‘play street’ is closed to traffic for the afternoon and features a giant rainbow
slide and running track, designed by the children. The slide carries the words ‘FRESH AIR
FUTURE’ in rainbow lettering – a reference to London’s current levels of toxic air.

Due to dangerously high levels of air pollution across the UK, it’s no longer just traffic
accidents that make playing out in the street dangerous for children.

According to one study led by Queen Mary University, children in London have up to 10% less
lung capacity than those living outside the capital, and air pollution is known to contribute to
asthma and a range of other respiratory diseases in children.

The Air Team is a group of parents across the UK who are worried about the damage air
pollution is causing to their children’s health and are calling for national action to bring
pollution down to safe limits.

Ben Paul, a member of The Air Team and a local parent said:
“London is a wonderful city, but it needs to clean up its act. Our children are breathing dirty air
every single day, and this is the first time I’ve felt happy to let my son play outside in his
community without the scourge of traffic and pollution.

“This is a real health crisis and we need to do something about it. Play streets are a fantastic
way of reducing air pollution and connecting communities, but we need real action from the
Mayor and crucially the Government to get the most polluting vehicles off the roads, and give
the streets back to the people”

Play streets are a growing initiative in which local residents apply to have their street closed
off to traffic on a temporary – but repeating – basis.

There are now over 900 play streets around the UK, and 27,000 children are thought to have
benefited from the scheme.

Alice Ferguson, the director of Playing Out said “Over just one generation, children have lost
the freedom to simply go outside and play, to the serious detriment of their health and
happiness. We’ve allowed cars and traffic to take over our streets, creating a “child-unfriendly”
environment, both in terms of road safety and air pollution.

“It is wonderful that Great Ormond Street Hospital is now organising their own play street for
Clean Air Day, creating a vision for what is possible and demonstrating a basic need for all
children: the freedom to play out where they live and breathe clean air”.