PARENTS have been urged to set a better example for their children by ditching the car for short journeys, especially to and from school.

The fact that streets outside schools are “chock-a-block” with traffic at drop-off and pick-up times shows too many people view driving as the default for the school run, according to an inner-city councillor.

The claim was made during a discussion on a major project to get Bradford children more active.

The JU:MP scheme was set up in 2018 with the goal of getting more children in Bradford active.

Delivered by Born in Bradford on behalf of Active Bradford, it was a response to the poor health of many children in parts of the city, and in recent years has seen numerous projects to get kids active, as well as the creation of new play areas and small parks in inner city areas of Bradford.

A committee of Bradford councillors was given an update on the work of the project at a recent meeting.

Rather than focusing on exercise, the programme aims to simply get children aged five to 11 living more active lives – such as walking more and getting involved in sports and play.

When the programme started, it was estimated that over three-quarters of children in this age group in Bradford didn’t get the recommended 60 minutes of “moderate to vigorous” activity a day.

A report to the Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee said: “The JU:MP programme has a major focus on reducing inequalities as our data shows that South Asian children have significantly lower levels of physical activity than white British children; only six per cent of South Asian girls were active enough to benefit their health.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Councillor Riaz AhmedCouncillor Riaz Ahmed (Image: newsquest)

“There are also stark inequalities in access to greenspace for some multi-ethnic communities in inner city areas of Bradford and evidence shows this can lead to poorer mental and physical health.

“JU:MP has developed 12 parks and greenspaces in disadvantaged areas, working closely with Bradford Council to reduce inequalities.”

An app that will reward children with points for visiting parks and play areas with their parents is also being rolled out.

The committee was told that research into children’s physical activity carried out as part of the programme was seen as “world-leading,” and, this spring, a study of children who have been involved in the programme will look at whether their health has improved.

But councillor Riaz Ahmed (Lib Dem, Bradford Moor) questioned whether the scheme should look beyond children. He said: “I think some of this should be targeted towards adults.

“One of the big problems I see is around school start and finish times. The roads are chock-a- block – everyone is trying to drop their kids off by car.

“I haven’t seen any difference in recent years. You end up stood behind someone’s exhaust.

“When are we going to get parents walking their children to school?

“In my ward, not many people live more than half a mile away from their school, but parents still pick their children up by car and drop them off by car. It is always the same story.

“Have we made any difference? I don’t think we have. It is a big issue that there has been little change on.

“We need to change people’s behaviour at a very young age. We need to get more people out of cars.”

Dr Andrew Daly Smith, research director of JU:MP, pointed out that the project was aimed at children aged between 5-14 years old.

He said work needs to be done with schools to promote active travel, adding: “Teachers are not trained to promote active travel, we’ve been working with them for a few years to try and address these needs.

“We need to reduce reliance on motorised transport and see a shift to walking or cycling.

“Have we stopped the problem? No. is it still a huge problem? Yes. Is Bradford any different from other cities? No.”

Chair of the committee, councillor Kamran Hussain (Lab, Toller) said it was important the green spaces in the city were maintained, even with council cutbacks looming.

He added: “We have to make sure children keep using the facilities that were designed for them.”