5/14/12 – Clean Air Partnership Recognizes Clean Air Efforts of Gifted Students from the Rockwood Center for Creative Learning

ST. LOUIS, Mo. May 14, 2012…Last spring, the St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership presented students from the “There’s No Zone Like the Ozone” classes at the Rockwood School District’s Center for Creative Learning (CCL) in Ellisville, Mo., with a challenge to solve the problem of vehicle idling at their school. The Partnership is recognizing the students for their efforts to create and implement an anti-idling campaign, known as “Action4Air,” which has not only helped to reduce idling at the Rockwood CCL, but is now expanding its reach with the goal to reduce idling throughout the region.

Led by instructor Kathy Nuetzel, in conjunction with the American Lung Association and the Clean Air Partnership, “Action4Air” kicked off with the development of an idling survey which revealed that, daily, half of the parents picking up their children from the CCL idled their vehicles, and some arrived nearly 30 minutes early. Knowing that just 10 seconds of vehicle idling can negatively impact air quality, the students set out on a mission to reduce idling at their school.

“At the CCL, the curriculum is focused on presenting students with a real-world problem, and empowering them to think critically about it and take actions to fix or solve it,” said Kathy Nuetzel, Gifted Educator with the Rockwood CCL. “In this case, our students stepped up to the plate in a big way.”

Before any work was done, the students studied anti-idling campaigns nationwide, and then divided into four groups with specific tasks. A Sign Group was in charge of developing proposals to CCL administrators requesting the placement of permanent anti-idling signs in the facility parking lot. The team also designed the signs that now hang in key spots throughout the lot. A Message Group was formed to raise money to purchase the signs and promote anti-idling awareness within the CCL community. Students designed and sold anti-idling-themed t-shirts, created “thank you for not idling” flyers for posting inside all CCL busses, and also developed an electronic flyer asking parents to refrain from idling. A third group identified idling concerns related to parent pick-up procedures and developed recommendations to improve procedures and decrease idling. As a result of their efforts, the CCL has already seen idling decrease by 15 percent. A Design Group is currently working to compile and share the students’ success story through a variety of channels, including the development of website content, PowerPoint presentations and a web video highlighting the “Action4Air” campaign and its impact on the CCL so far.

The Rockwood CCL has seen a decline in idling and now the students are focusing their efforts on the community at large. In recent months, the students have proposed a vehicle idling policy for Rockwood; embarked on a grant writing project to obtain funds to purchase equipment to monitor ozone pollution at their school as part of the Global Ozone Project; and established a letter-writing campaign encouraging local businesses to join in the anti-idling effort by signing anti-idling pledges and displaying anti-idling signs in their parking lots.

“It’s truly incredible to see all that these students have accomplished and are continuing to accomplish, and we are thrilled to have the chance to formally recognize their efforts and reward them publically for a job well done,” said Susannah Fuchs, senior director of environmental health of the American Lung Association of the Plains-Gulf Region and administrator of the Clean Air Partnership. “Not only are they drawing attention to the negative effects of vehicle idling on air quality, but their efforts go a long way towards helping their fellow students and teachers, and the region, understand the connection between air quality and lung health.”

Tonight’s event is featuring remarks from selected representatives of the “There’s No Zone Like the Ozone” classes, and the students are being presented with certificates from the Clean Air Partnership and American Lung Association honoring their efforts to reduce emissions and help improve the region’s air quality.

“These students are so bright, engaged, excited and passionate about their work to reduce idling, and it’s been amazing to see them in action,” added Nuetzel. “We thank the Clean Air Partnership and American Lung Association for presenting the students with this challenge because it’s given them a unique opportunity to tackle a real-world problem head-on and take steps to make a difference.”

To learn more about the continuing work of the Rockwood CCL’s “There’s No Zone Like the Ozone” classes, visit https://staff.rockwood.k12.mo.us/nuetzelkathy/Pages/default.aspx or call (636) 891-6550. For information on ways you can do your share for cleaner air, visit www.cleanair-stlouis.com, find the St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership on Facebook, follow the organization on Twitter @gatewaycleanair or call (314) 645-5505, ext. 1007.

The St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership was formed in 1995, led by the American Lung Association of the Central States, the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Washington University and others, to increase awareness of regional air quality issues and to encourage activities to reduce air pollution emissions.

For more information, contact:

Shelene Treptow, The Hauser Group, Inc. (314) 436-9090

Susannah Fuchs, St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership (314) 645-5505m ext. 1007