Johanne Levers named travel champion
Published: Monday 18th October 10
A local parent and teaching assistant has scooped a London-wide award for her tireless work promoting safe and sustainable ways for pupils to travel to school.
Johanne Levers, who works at St. Michael's Primary School in Southfields, was named Champion of the Year at Transport for London's (TfL) Smarter Travel Awards 2010.
Jo was the only non-professional nominee in this peer voted category.
The accolade recognises her remarkable commitment to school travel at St. Michael's which dates back to 2005 when she first approached Wandsworth Council with a view to launching a 'walking bus'. The initiative is still running today and has 21 regular children passengers and 16 parent volunteers who man the bus on a rota basis.
Jo also played a leading role in developing the school's travel plan and with the support of her headteacher has introduced a successful campaign to stop people causing a nuisance by parking too close to the school entrance.
Her other achievements include establishing a team of junior road safety officers to help with pedestrian training, campaigns to promote walking to school and spreading sustainable travel messages among parents and carers. She also worked with Wandsworth Council's road safety team to set up an after-school cycle club.
Thanks in large part to Jo's efforts, St. Michael's has seen a consistent decrease in the proportion of pupils travelling to school by car - from 34 per cent in 2005, down to 8 per cent in 2010.
There has been a corresponding increase in the number of pupils walking to school over the same period - from 65 per cent in 2005, climbing to 91 per cent in 2010.
St. Michael's was recently awarded the Gold level in TfL's accreditation scheme for schools demonstrating a long-term commitment to promoting sustainable travel.
Jo said: "We have some amazing things going on at St. Michael's, but I am only the facilitator and without the great support of all the staff, our colleagues at Wandsworth Council, the parents and of course the children, these amazing shifts in travel choice would not have happened.
"I really believe it is our responsibility to empower the future generation with all the tools and knowledge, so that they are fully equipped to make the significant change in lifestyle that will benefit the environment, the community and their health and wellbeing."
TfL's Smarter Travel Awards recognise excellence among those organisations and individuals working to promote sustainable transport. You can read more about Jo's and St. Michael's achievements at www.smartertravelawards.org.uk
Throughout October, children, parents and staff at 32 Wandsworth schools are taking part in International Walk to School. To find out more visit www.walktoschool.org.uk
The council works with local schools to promote active, safe, sustainable travel plans. To find out more visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/schooltravelplans
The picture shows Johanne Levers accepting her award from (left) David Brown, Head of Surface Transport at TfL and (right) Ben Plowden, Head of Better Routes and Places at TfL.