Pupils from schools across Leeds are driving forward innovative solutions to tackle key transport challenges, as they participated in a Dragons’ Den-style event organised by Leeds City Council and active travel endorsing organisation Modeshift.

Today, the prestigious Brownlee Centre welcomed students from Temple Moor High School, Boston Spa Academy, Prince Henry’s Grammar School, and The Ruth Gorse Academy for the Active Travel Ambassador Campaign Junction event.

The event, aimed at fostering sustainable and safe travel practices, provided a platform for students to present their ideas addressing transport issues affecting their school communities.

Kicking off the event virtually was Alistair Brownlee, Leeds’ esteemed triathlete and the city’s first Active Travel Ambassador, who highlighted the significance of active travel ambassadors in schools and shared insights into his role.

The idea pitches, tailored to each school’s specific sustainable or road safety needs, showcased a diverse range of solutions, from cycling initiatives to park-and-stride campaigns.

Modeshift, a national sustainable travel organisation, partnered in the event, underlining its commitment to promoting safe, sustainable, and active travel practices.

This year marks the second iteration of the Active Travel Ambassadors programme in secondary schools across the country, with Leeds witnessing a surge in momentum. Positive feedback from both students and teachers underscores its success.

Evident behaviour change towards sustainable travel choices was observed, with a reduction in car usage as students embraced walking, scooting, or cycling.

Following feedback from industry experts, all participating schools secured funding of up to £250, supplemented by a match fund contribution from the council, to implement their campaigns.

Prince Henry’s Grammar School, already a beacon of success in promoting safe, active travel, celebrated its second active travel triumph within six months, having been named Local Authority Secondary School of the Year at the Modeshift STARS Regional Awards.

Leeds City Council’s executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure, Councillor Helen Hayden, said; “I was delighted by the enthusiasm displayed by all the students during their pitches. Their innovative ideas about how to promote safe and active travel within their local community were very impressive, given that we want Leeds to be a city where you don’t need to own a car.

“Encouraging safe and active travel to school is an important child-friendly initiative to improve the wellbeing and safety of children and families in Leeds. Children and young people in Leeds want to be able to travel safely and easily, which is why we have spotlighted this as the Child-Friendly Leeds Wish for March.

“The council’s Vision Zero strategy aims to eliminate fatal and serious road injuries from our city by 2040, with active travel programmes playing a crucial role in supporting this ambition. I look forward to more schools getting involved with the programme, paving the way for continued success in the years to come.”

Active Travel Ambassador for Leeds City Council, Alistair Brownlee, said; “As Active Travel Ambassador for Leeds, it’s great to hear that so many young students are engaging with active travel and trying to make a difference in their communities.

“I used to cycle from Horsforth to my secondary school in Bradford and I know first-hand how important active travel solutions are to the success of young people getting safely and sustainably to school. I wish we’d had similar schemes when I was young to feed into.

“By empowering our youth to become ambassadors of change, we are laying the foundation for a healthier, more vibrant future for Leeds.”