Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Green Commuting for Mayor’s Environment Expo

For the past two years, students at Captain Nicholla Goddard School have come up with a simple solution to decrease high traffic volume around their school.

For their Eco-leader project for the 2014 Mayor’s Environment Expo, grade 9 students identified a risk and turned it into an opportunity to reduce their school’s ecological footprint by creating the Green Commuting Hub program. This program built on the success of a project many of the students had worked on the previous year for the Mayor’s Expo.

Students, along with parents and teachers, were concerned about the high traffic in the areas surrounding the school. The streets were crowded with vehicles from parents dropping their children off at the school. Concerned for both the health and safety of the kids, a group of grade 9 students under the leadership of Debbie Rheinstein wanted to make a change for the better.

The Green Commuting Hub program is similar to a Walking School Bus. Students registered in a program were assigned a hub meeting point near their house and would walk to school each morning as a group.  Hub leaders were in charge of making the meeting spots visible and kept track of attendance. Each week, students recorded environmental progress and placed in a spreadsheet to tally green commuting trips  and kilometres traveled by participants and carbon offsets.

The Main goal of the program was to reduce the student’s carbon footprint, increase daily activity and improve the safety around the school by reducing the amount of traffic. In addition to the environment and health benefits of the program, the program taught students the importance of alternative transportation methods.

“Our initiative got students excited about green commuting, says teacher Debbie Rheinstein. “It helped students become involved in their community.  Students learned first-hand how they could reduce their impact on the environment and, at the same time, improved the health of our students.”

Students were really excited about the success of the program, having doubled participation from 2013 to 2014. After working with, and being supported by Calgary Police Services  and The City, they are planning to pass the torch to a new set of students for the 2014-2015 school year.

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