International Day of Clean Air: Promoting Biking and Walking as Eco-Friendly Solutions
The International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies is observed annually on September 7th to raise awareness of the importance of clean air for human health and well-being. Air pollution is the most significant environmental risk to human health and a major contributor to death and disease worldwide. This year’s theme is ‘Together for Clean Air,’ highlighting the urgent need for stronger partnerships, increased investment, and shared responsibility to overcome air pollution.
Promoting eco-friendly alternatives like biking and walking is a fun and effective way to educate people about air pollution and its connection to climate change.
This summer, the GMTMA staff had an opportunity to share our clean air and bike/pedestrian safety programs with children at local libraries, recreation programs, and summer camps. Our programs help educate children on the impacts of air pollution and discuss how walking and biking are viable solutions to combat climate change. Encouraging children to adopt these habits reduces their carbon footprint and promotes a healthier lifestyle that ultimately carries them into adulthood.
We have established programs for all grade levels. Although each presentation is geared towards specific age groups, the concepts are similar. Through interactive visuals and science experiments, the children learn about air pollution sources like vehicle emissions, industrial processes, and fossil fuel burning. We discuss the adverse health effects of air pollution, including the increased risk of asthma and respiratory illnesses. We explore the environmental benefits of biking and walking as alternatives to driving, including reduced traffic congestion, reduced carbon emissions, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and improved air quality indexes.
Additionally, we advise students on road safety when cycling or walking. We discuss basic rules, including helmet-wearing, using designated crosswalks, and obeying traffic signs. We emphasize the importance of being aware of their surroundings and riding or walking on the correct side of the road.
We encourage parental involvement with our Walking School Bus App. The app helps parents organize walks and bike rides to and from school. Parents can create groups, invite neighbors, and assign parent leaders to walk with children. The group text function encourages safe and effective communication with parents and alerts parents when students arrive safely.
Other ideas to get involved:
- Organize community events or school programs that encourage biking and walking.
- Organize field trips that promote biking and walking.
- Collaborate with local organizations, bike shops, or environmental groups to provide interactive workshops.
- Organize biking/pedestrian safety training sessions in your schools or community.
- Demonstrate the benefits of bike-sharing programs or designated bike lanes in the community.
Educating children about air pollution and promoting biking and walking as sustainable transportation options can empower them to make informed decisions that benefit their health and the environment. Creating a generation of environmentally conscious individuals who prioritize active transportation sets the stage for a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future.