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Girls get head start on ULEZ

by Fiona on April 09, 2017

08 April 2017 I London Play

LONDON: Traffic came to a halt in Crossharbour on Friday as the ultimate in low-emissions vehicles took to the road - fresh from racing in the All London Girl Kart Grand Prix.

In the week that Sadiq Khan announced a 2019 date for the introduction of London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), the charity London Play set 12 teams of young women and girls battling – first against the clock and then against one another – to build go karts from scratch and then race them, at the nearby Mudchute Farm. Following the races, victorious teams – from Shakespeare Walk and Hackney Marsh Adventure Playgrounds in Hackney – stopped traffic and paraded their handmade karts down East Ferry Road, as bemused drivers looked on.

The four heat winners were teams from Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hackney and Lambeth. But it was Hackney’s Shakespeare Walk Adventure Playground (SWAPA) team that was ultimately victorious – narrowly seeing off competition from Lambeth’s second-placed Lollard Street Adventure Playground in a thrilling final.

Serious horsepower prize

The event was sponsored by the Manufacturing Technologies Association which provided tools for the day – and Laura Pickering, MTA Education and Development Coordinator, handed over the top award to a clearly jubilant SWAPA team in a shower of sparkling grape juice. They will get to experience some serious horsepower thanks to the Henry Surtees Foundation, which donated the first prize trip to Kent’s Buckmore Park Kart Circuit, where Formula One stars Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button started out. Daubed with blue paint, team member Shalona, 10, said: “It’s such a great feeling, we had a brilliant time!”

“The Manufacturing Technologies Association is proud to be the headline sponsor of London Play’s Girl Kart Grand Prix,” said Laura. “It is important to educate young people about the wide variety of careers available within engineering.  We feel that engaging in hands-on activities and building go karts from scratch at the Girl Kart Grand Prix is a great way to introduce girls and young women to a variety of new skills, and will hopefully expand horizons when considering which subjects to study at school.”

Category winners

Awards were also given out in three categories: Hackney Marsh Adventure Playground team won the award for ‘Best Dressed Kart’ with their glittering rainbow-coloured creation, which also performed well on speed during the heats. Nina, 13 said: “It would be nice to win the races, but we just came to have fun.” Her team mate Raivene, 14 said: “We put the smallest member of our team in the driving seat because she was lightest to push.”

A third Hackney group, from Homerton Adventure Playground and Clapton Park, won the award for ‘Best Engineered Kart’ and the award for ‘Teamwork’ was taken by the Acacia Adventure Playground team from Merton. Acacia team member Kyrie, 11 said: “It’s great because there are no boys to get in the way!” But this was a day when just taking part was truly excitement and reward enough. Olamide, 10, was with a group from Greenwich. “I’ve never made a go kart before and I’m here to have fun,” she said. “And I can saw by myself now!”

Carole Brackley from Dare to be Different, set up by racing driver Susie Wolff to increase female participation in all aspects of motorsport was there to inspire and encourage the girls. She said: "It would have been almost impossible for anyone not to have enjoyed this event.  Seeing the girls design and build a kart from scratch, with steering and brakes; get it inspected to attain an 'MoT'; then every one of them race to the chequered flag at the end, was amazing. Motorsport teams could potentially benefit from the skills displayed by these keen girl amateurs - huge congratulations to everyone involved in competing and organising."

Corporate volunteers from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Cass Business School helped the day run smoothly and had a brilliant time in the process.

New futures

London Play director Paul Hocker said: “The Girl Kart Grand Prix is all about giving girls the chance to have fun, be free and enjoy the experience of experimenting and creating something using real tools. But on a more serious note, we are clearly going to need experts in clean technology in future – and who knows what today’s experience could’ve sparked in one of these young minds.”

London Play chair Melian Mansfield said: 'It’s fantastic to see young women and girls taking the lead and unleashing their practical, technical and creative talents. Most children today unfortunately get few opportunities to manipulate materials, use tools or create tangible objects like the amazing variety of karts we have seen conjured up from piles of wood and bits in such a short space of time today. It’s amazing the transformation that takes place – not just in the karts but in the participants themselves – and seeing the girls leave here thinking anything is possible. We are also very grateful to the Manufacturing Technologies Association, Dare to be Different and all our corporate volunteers for making this fantastic day possible.”

And the great news for those that missed out this time (and boys!) is that there is another, mixed event coming up in on 4th August, also at Mudchute Farm. Anyone interested in joining the fun can email for more information.

Further information is available in the press release, downloadable below. 


  • Pdf
    Girl Kart Grand Prix PR

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