Pupils from two Portsmouth schools are stomping to school to encourage healthy lifestyles, promote road safety and improve air quality.

More than 300 children from Penhale and Mayfield Infant Schools have already signed up to take part in the seven week Walk to School Challenge, which runs until Friday 8 March.

Pupils who sign up for the scheme, which is run by Portsmouth City Council, will receive a free pack with everything they need to take part, including a pedometer and a stomp chart.

Pupils who stomp (walk, scoot or cycle) to school at least three times a week can swap their completed charts for a collectable Pompey Monster keyring. There are eight to collect, including Stomper, Eagle Eyes, Stripes, Chatter Natter, Scoot, Wheels and newest member of the gang, Breezy.

A limited edition glow in the dark character keyring, Neon, is also up for grabs during half term, between Monday 18 February and Friday 22 February.

Air quality monster, Breezy, has floated in to join the Pompey Monsters and teach children about the importance of clean air and reducing pollution. Although pollution affects everyone, it's especially damaging to young lungs which are still developing. The combination of Nitrogen Dioxide and particulate matter from vehicles can cause health conditions like asthma and restrict lung development in children.

Breezy will lead the way in encouraging children to travel actively and choose quieter routes away from heavy traffic, as well as asking parents not to idle their engines close to schools whilst picking up and dropping off children.

Over the past few weeks, pupils at the two schools have been getting to know Stomper, leader of the seven Pompey Monsters, who has made a guest appearance at the schools' assemblies and showed the children just how simple and enjoyable it is to stomp to school. Nine Portsmouth schools have been involved with the scheme so far and almost 1,300 children have taken part.

Cllr Lynne Stagg, Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport, said: "Pompey Monsters is a fantastic initiative which teaches children in a fun and engaging way the benefits of walking, cycling or scooting to school. The schools have been very supportive of the scheme and it's great to see that the children have really embraced the challenge.

"Parents who choose to leave their cars at home or switch off their engines around schools are making a vital contribution to improving the city's air quality and will help to build a cleaner future for our children's health."

Matt Stedman, Head of Primary at Mayfield School, said: "We loved having Stomper join our assembly and the children are incredibly enthusiastic about the Pompey Monster Challenge. At the start of the year, it's great that so many families have signed up to a healthy walk, cycle or scoot to school each day. We are also pleased to be helping to reduce air pollution while improving road safety in the local community."

Kate Keller, Head teacher at Penhale Infant School, said: "The children loved having a cuddle with Stomper and he certainly encouraged them to sign up for challenge. They were thrilled to receive their very own pedometers and this has encouraged them to walk to school to increase their steps. The children were very interested to learn about the poor air quality around the school due to the traffic and were keen to take part and make a difference."

Parents who can't walk all the way to school are being asked to Park and Stomp. Parking a short distance from the school and walking the rest of the way in helps children to stay active. It keeps the school gates clear of cars and reduces children's exposure to air pollution caused by car emissions. 

To find out more about Pompey Monsters visit www.portsmouth.gov.uk. For more information about air quality in Portsmouth visit myjourneyportsmouth.com/coughcough.