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Councils discover Air Quality Superheroes in southern Oxfordshire

Today (22 September 2021) is International Car Free Day – what better day to announce the winners of our Air Quality Superhero children’s competition.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils launched the competition for primary school children across southern Oxfordshire earlier this year and the deadline for entries was earlier this month.

The councils challenged children of primary school age to create an air quality superhero. The winner of the competition in each district would receive a new Micro scooter.

The competition was designed to highlight the issue of air pollution, which is linked to traffic as petrol and diesel vehicles emit pollutants into the air. These are linked to illnesses and diseases of the lungs, particularly in vulnerable people such as older people and children.

The councils were looking for heroes who could easily get about without using a car and have powers to help make our air cleaner and clearer.

There were some fantastic heroes among the 66 entries from across the districts. Several schools took part and whole classes sent in entries.

The final choice was down to our judges – Councillor Catherine Webber, Vale of White Horse District Council cabinet member for Climate Emergency and the environment and Cllr David Rouane South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for housing and environment.

Vale winner – Swift

The winner in the Vale was Harry, aged 10, from St Edmunds Catholic Primary School, Abingdon. Harry won it for his superhero called Swift. According to Harry, Swift “can fly high and get litter in the sky and can blow away air pollution with his turbo shoes. His superhero’s powers help to fight against air pollution and also prevent animals from choking on litter.”

Cllr Webber said: “It was not at all easy to choose a winner from such creative entries, but my final choice was Swift as this superhero, who can be a girl or boy, disperses pollution in the air as well as from the ground. In other words, he or she is tackling the invisible litter in the air which affects the air we breathe, as well as the visible litter on the ground, which can harm animals if digested. We should all be more like Swift.”

For South Oxfordshire, Cllr Rouane chose Miss Awful Air Away by Alana, aged 7, from Valley Road Primary School in Henley.

South winner – Miss Awful Air Away

According to Alana, Miss Awful Air Away “sucks in dirty air and blows out good air. Her hands can suck in rubbish and teleport it to a rubbish bin. Her earrings suck in carbon dioxide and change it to oxygen.”

Cllr Rouane said: “It was a close-run thing as there were several vying for the top spot but I chose Miss Awful Air Away as she is an all-round superhero who not only cleans the air but also picks up litter and combats climate change. In that respect, by using cars less and picking up litter, we all have superpowers.”

So congratulations to both Harry and Alana. They will be receiving their prize of a Micro scooter each which the councils will present to them later this term. And their winning designs will feature on a roadside banner for their school encouraging drivers waiting outside to think about how they could help improve air pollution (and children’s health) by switching off their idling engines.

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