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Southwark students pitch in the ‘Dragon’s Den’ to improve their school area

29 March 2023

Students from Ark Walworth Academy were in the hot seat last week as part of a joint project with Southwark Council to make the area around their school healthier.

School Superzones is a project which aims to improve the health environments around schools. A Superzone around a school is around 400 metres or a five-minute walk. Within this, actions are taken to create healthier places for children, young people and their families to live, learn and play.

Southwark Council is working with Ark Walworth on their Superzone with funding from City Hall. In the run up to the ‘Dragons Den’ style event, the council's Public Health team ran workshops with the young people to gather their ideas based around improving:

  • the food and drink environment
  • active travel
  • community safety
  • parks and open spaces.

Students from Years 8, 9, 10 and Sixth Form pitched their ideas to a panel who helped suggest ways that students, the school and the council could work together to help deliver their plans. Their ideas included more traffic control measures, a smoke-free zone, more youth clubs, and better lighting in parks.

The next step will be the school and the council agreeing an action plan to try and bring some of the young people's ideas to life.

Cllr Evelyn Akoto, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing who sat on the panel, said: “Growing up in a healthy and safe neighbourhood is central to giving young people the best start in life. This project is all about creating and sustaining places where young people can play safely, breathe clean air, be active, enjoy a healthy diet and thrive.

“I was bowled over by how confident and creative the pitches were from the Ark Walworth students. It proves how young people are just as committed to creating healthier places for their community as we and their school are. Together, we will take action to improve the health and life chances of all students.”

Jessica West, Principal at Ark Walworth Academy who also sat on the panel, said: “We're hugely proud of our student ambassadors advocating for change in our local community. All our students deserve a safe environment in which they can live and learn; we hope to see positive action as a result of their hard work.”

The full panel included:

Councillor Akoto – Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Southwark Council

Sangeeta Leahy – Director Public Health, Southwark Council

Jin Lim Deputy – Deputy Director Public Health, Southwark Council

Jessica West – Principal, Ark Walworth Academy

Meghan Doyle – Head of Social and Economic Investment (Aylesbury), Notting Hill Genesis

Page last updated: 29 March 2023

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