By Michelle Crean

A new Park and Stride initiative ‘5 Days 5 New Ways’ to encourage alternative means of travelling to school was launched in Killarney this week.

The initiative began at 8.30am on Monday morning in St Brigid’s Secondary School, as students were dropped to Tesco car park in town and walked to school from there. Carpooling was the mode of transport on Tuesday, cycling on Wednesday. On Thursday, students assembled in the Lidl carpark and were escorted to school, and Friday everyone was encouraged to use the bus service.

It is all part of the Green Schools Initiative, with the main aim of the campaign to reduce congestion outside the school entrance, focus on the health and well-being of the students to encourage them to walk and cycle to school.

The school also hopes to promote the very topical issue of climate change by reducing carbon emissions, Sheree Murphy, Green Schools Coordinator of St Brigid’s explained.

“The support from various organisations such as Killarney Gardaí, Killarney Tidy Towns Committee and Mayor of Killarney John Sheahan has been phenomenal,” she said.

“I think everyone would like to see the public, and in particular students getting more active in the morning, as it is not only beneficial to our health but also to the environment and Killarney town itself.”

She added a particular thank you to the Tidy Towns committee who sponsored a €30 voucher per day for any student who got involved in the ‘5 Days 5 New Ways’ initiative. The student’s names were entered into a raffle for a voucher. And Colm Copper, representing AIB, sponsored a voucher for students who got involved in two or more mornings.

Kerry footballer and All-Star winner, Sarah Houlihan was also on hand during Thursday’s event in order to encourage more walking to school, she added.

“Thank you to Garda Jamie Lenihan who organised a Garda presence on each of the days. The Cathaoirleach of Killarney Municipal District Councillor John Sheahan commended the teachers and the students for their initiative in trying to drive a change in behaviour around transport. The development of safe, accessible walking and cycling routes in Killarney is of vital importance to the long term development of the town.”