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School competition breathes fresh air into smoke-free playground message

Schools across Buckinghamshire may just be breaking up for the summer but the message to smokers from pupils at one school will apply whatever the time of year – keep our playground a smoke-free zone.

The pupils from Stoke Mandeville Combined School took part in a competition to design signs that discouraging smoking and vaping near Buckinghamshire playgrounds.

The designs of four creative pupils were chosen by the judges as the top entries. Two were commended and two winners were chosen from more than 50 entries. The children will see their drawings converted into signs displayed initially at their local playground on Eskdale Road. The two runners-up will have their designs shared on social media to spread the important message thanking people for not smoking where children play.

The idea for smoke-free playgrounds follows an aspiration in Buckinghamshire Council’s Tobacco Control Strategy to achieve a smoke-free generation, protecting children from the harmful effects of tobacco. The council is aiming to create smoke- and vape-free spaces all around Buckinghamshire, particularly where children play, like parks and playgrounds, with the support of the organisations who own the spaces, such as parish councils. The work has already started with the Smoke Free Sidelines campaign discouraging smoking near youth football games.

Angela Macpherson, Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, who helped judge the competition, said: “We were thrilled with Stoke Mandeville Combined School’s response to our smoke-free design a sign competition and the standard was so high it made judging really difficult. We had entries from Reception through to Year 6 pupils.

“A huge part of what we’re trying to do in Buckinghamshire is reduce the harm caused by smoking. Although the numbers of smokers have reduced, nearly 10% of Buckinghamshire adults still smoke. Children copy what they see, so making parks and playgrounds smoke-free will take smoking and vaping out of sight of children and make it seem less of a normal activity, helping us achieve our ambition of a smoke-free generation.”

“With that in mind, it’s great that pupils have understood this message and helped us design powerful and thought-provoking signs, which we can now use at playgrounds across Buckinghamshire.”

The winners, who were presented with their prizes by Steve Bowles, Cabinet Member for Communities, were six-year-old Poppy and 10-year-old Grace, who received £50 shopping vouchers and will see their design developed into a sign. The runners up were Elsie, age 5 and Alexa, age 9. They received £25 shopping vouchers and their designs will be shared on social media.

Wendover and Villages Community Board worked closely with Stoke Mandeville Combined School and Stoke Mandeville Parish Council to run the competition, and the signs which are due to be installed during the school summer holidays, have been funded by Buckinghamshire Council. It is hoped that the project in partnership with Community Boards will be rolled out to a number of playgrounds and parks in Buckinghamshire.

For free help and advice on quitting smoking, text ‘SMOKE’ to 60777 or visit:


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