A PARALYMPIC gold-medal winner visited two primary schools in Leigh this week to celebrate the launch of their new 'School Streets' project.

Paralympic cyclist and swimmer Dame Sarah Storey, who has recently been appointed as Cycling and Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester, launched the project at Sacred Heart and Leigh Central primary schools.

With around 30% of journeys made in Greater Manchester being less than 1km, the Safer Schools initiative intends to make school journeys safer by prioritising and encouraging walking and cycling over driving.

Across the borough, there are now eight confirmed School Streets which are planned to "transform" the school run.

Leigh Journal: The project will have road closures around schoolsThe project will have road closures around schools

As well as encouraging active travel, the reduction of cars will create a safer environment for children while helping to cut down air pollution levels.

In most cases, a School Streets project consists of a traffic regulation order and related signage, but each scheme is said to be "unique" to their community and meet the needs of each school accordingly.

The scheme aims to discourage vehicular access at drop off and pick-up points, but the council has stressed that residents’ cars, local businesses, blue badge holders and the emergency services will still have access to the streets.

The borough's projects will contribute to GM’s ambitious plan to become carbon neutral by 2038.

Leigh Journal: The initiative aims to promote active travel and make journeys safer for schoolkidsThe initiative aims to promote active travel and make journeys safer for schoolkids

Commenting on the scheme, Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Dame Sarah Storey, said:

"A School Street not only transforms the school run by making it safer for children to walk, scoot or cycle to school, it also supports a healthier lifestyle and develops sustainable travel habits from a young age.

"Children love to be active and starting the day with a blast of fresh air and some fun, in a safe environment is essential, and I'm delighted we've had such a committed response from schools in Wigan Borough - with many more GM School Streets on the way.

"It's an important step towards enabling more people to choose to leave the car behind, especially when travelling for shorter journeys."

Leigh Journal: Paralympian Sarah Storey at the launch of the School Streets initiative in LeighParalympian Sarah Storey at the launch of the School Streets initiative in Leigh

Samantha Davies, from the Pastoral Support Team at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, added:

“Everyone at the school is thrilled to be involved with the School Streets scheme.

“The scheme is an initiative to keep everyone safe and healthy."