School pupils join ‘Chokey’ in urging drivers to switch off their engines

PUBLISHED: 16 June 2022

Today, on national Clean Air Day, pupils from St Thomas More’s School in Colchester gathered on Brook Street to highlight the actions we can all take to improve our health by tackling local air pollution.

The Year 5 pupils wore CAReless Pollution campaign masks showing Chokey the Emoji, to draw attention to the fact that pollution from vehicles can accumulate and affect the air we breathe.

Drivers are being urged to adopt better habits by switching off the car engine while stationary at traffic lights, and especially outside schools, to stop children having to breath polluted air.

Air pollution is associated with asthma and other lung diseases, and young developing lungs are especially in danger of being damaged. Breathing bad air can also cause heart problems and stroke and it is linked to one in 20 deaths in Colchester. Many drivers surveyed in Colchester admit to inadvertently contributing to air pollution by keeping their vehicles running when stationary.

Given the cost of petrol in the UK has undergone its biggest daily jump in 17 years, and with the RAC calculating that the average family car now costs almost £100 to refuel, this simple action can also help save money. If you’re sat in your car without moving for more than 10 seconds, it saves you fuel if you switch off your engine.

A Year 5 pupil at St Thomas More’s School in Colchester, said: “We have been learning about air pollution at school and how bad air is produced by vehicle exhausts. I don’t want to have to be in a cloud of smoke like Chokey the Emoji. That’s why I want more drivers to switch off the engine when they are not moving.”

Councillor Steph Nissen, Colchester Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainability, said: “We recognise the importance of air quality in Colchester and the health benefits clean air brings for residents and visitors. The CAReless Pollution campaign demonstrates the council’s commitment to tackling exhaust fumes and helps support residents to make a change.

“It’s encouraging to see the students helping to spread the word about improving air quality. I would encourage anyone interested in finding out more to visit the campaign website.”

Councillor David King, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, added:I applaud St. Thomas More Primary School and its pupils for seeing the importance of clean air. They did a great job at reminding drivers that small changes in behaviour can make a big difference for the better.”

Find out more about CAReless pollution and download free campaign materials including the Schools Toolkit with the Chokey the Emoji activity at

Page last reviewed: 16 June 2022


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