The Coalition for Clean Air started getting deeply involved in programs involving youth in 2016. CLEAR-In-Schools started at Dana Middle School in San Pedro, expanded to Riverside in 2017, and into the Coachella Valley in 2018.
The question many have asked us is why we are getting involved in educational programs. Our answer is that youth can be incredibly powerful advocates for change. Read the story below from Alhambra High School (Martinez, CA) student Lindsey Osmer to see what a difference they can make.
“My name is Lindsey Osmer and I am a senior at Alhambra High School in Martinez, CA. I am the student lead of the Idle Free Project in Honors Public Health class. Last year, our class set out to improve the air quality in Martinez. To do this, we focused on idling vehicles in our district parking lots.
Our project began by splitting up into groups and visiting each Martinez Unified school. At the site, we monitored the pick up lines and collected data on how many cars were idling, how long they were idling, and what kind of vehicle it was. We then analyzed our data as a class and came to the conclusion that idling is a very big problem in our community. Some cars were idling for over an hour! Because idling contributes to the release of excess particulate matter, pollution that can cause lung irritation and worsen asthma especially in the young, we wanted to do something to make a difference.
Our next step was to reach out to the community with educational tools. We met with administrators and spoke at PTA meetings. We presented at science fairs and in 5th grade classrooms.
Our hard work paid off! In June, the Martinez Unified School Board passed a resolution making our school district idle free.
Now comes the hard part of getting the school community to stop idling. To help us with the effort, the Contra Costa Spare the Air Resource Team donated signs, which are now up at every district school in Martinez.
The new Public Health class of 2017-2018 is continuing to invest time to further educate the community and continue to build on what the prior class accomplished. They plan on getting into the classrooms with the kids and teaching them about air quality and climate change. We will address the Martinez City Council in December to ask them to pass and idle free resolution similar to the one our school district passed.
We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our community!”
Thank you Lindsey for your hard work pushing to end idling and to bring clean air to your community. You inspire us to keep moving forward.
Special thanks to Martinez High School Teacher Susan Rideout for organizing this post.