The National Manager of the Green-Schools Travel Programme, Jane Hackett, travelled to Corella, Spain in late March as part of the Erasmus + Project entitled Sustainable Mobility : Sustainable Communities. The project focuses on: youth empowerment, sustainable mobility, community engagement and cultural exchange. contacted Green-Schools in early 2018 with a view to becoming an Irish partner on the European project due to our expertise in sustainable travel. The other groups involved in the project are: Frie Fugle and Cycling Without Age from Denmark, a youth association (LAG Suduva) from Lithuania, and the Alhama High School and Biciclistas de Corella in Spain. The most important element of the project is youth engagement; secondary schools from Ireland, Denmark, Lithuania and Spain were signed up to participate. St. Tiernan’s Community School in Dundrum, South Dublin agreed to take part in the 36 month project and their Green-Schools committee members were selected to participate in the exchange visits. The school is currently working on the fourth theme of the Green-Schools programme – Travel – so they are already exploring all areas of sustainable mobility.

The project includes six visits to participating countries and the first visit took place from March 25 until March 31 in Corella, Spain. The visit was hosted by the lead organisation Biciclistas de Corella in partnership with Alhama High School. The Irish team that visited Corella included; Jane Hackett from Green-Schools, Damien Ó Tuama from, Martina O’Shea a representative from St. Tiernan’s, students Leslieann, Sam, Livu, Adam, Jacob and Silvia from St. Tiernan’s Community School and Allison Roberts from the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival. The six students were paired up with Spanish students from Alhama High School and were hosted by the families for the week. Teams from Lithuania, Denmark and Spain made up the rest of the group and in total almost sixty people took part in the visit.

The visit to Corella was a fantastic experience for all of the Irish team. The town has a population of 8,000 and is located three hours north of Madrid in Navarra. The town is very different to an Irish town as it was traffic free and the school had no congestion outside the school gates. Students either walk or cycle to the school and the town is walkable with all of the core amenities located in the town centre. The trip itinerary was full to the brim with cultural activities (a visit to Pamplona and Tudella, meeting the Mayor of Corella, visits to Cathedrals and Palaces), cycling activities (cycling along the 40km looped ‘Sustainable Route’ from Corella town centre) and nature based activities (tree planting, walking in the Bardenas Desert). The people of Corella opened their homes and hearts to their Irish visitors and made the trip a once in a lifetime experience for the participating students and adults.

The next trip will take place in Dublin from Monday 24 until Saturday 29 June and will coincide with the international Velo-City conference. Green-Schools are delighted to be hosting this visit with and St. Tiernan’s Community School.