When my husband and I toured schools to find the one we wanted to enroll our daughter in, I’m sure I was silently voted one of the strangest parents ever. Why do I feel I was secretly endowed with this title? Because every room and hallway we were taken through, I sniffed. A lot. And, according to my husband, I wasn’t terribly discreet.
I didn’t have a cold or postnasal drip. And, I’m not part bloodhound. I was simply concerned about the indoor air quality. My daughter was prone to respiratory illnesses and I wanted to be sure the school she would be attending would support and protect her growing lungs in addition to her brain. For many air quality issues, your nose knows, so I was using the easiest tool I had to gauge how healthy the environment was.
Back then, I was part of a very fringe minority of parents concerned about toxics in our everyday environments. Today, the movement is much larger and there are many more opportunities for creating cleaner, greener, safer school environments. Here are just a few:
Global Green USA Green School Makeover Contest. Global Green USA is working to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn in a healthier, greener school. Their Green School Makeover Competition, as presented by Pureology, gives you the chance to help a school in your area by nominating it for a Green School Makeover. Go to Green School Contestto enter your school (by September 30th) and learn more. In December 2011, Global Green will announce one grand prize winner to receive $65,000 to renovate their school, plus approximately $65,000 of in-kind technical assistance, and four schools will each receive $2,500 towards their green school renovations.
Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grant Program. The newly established Whole Kids Foundation has launched the School Garden Grant Program initiative to educate students on healthy eating habits, sustainability conservation and community awareness. The organization has teamed with Whole Foods Market and FoodCorps to provide grants of $2,000 to grant school garden wishes throughout the U.S., UK and Canada. To date, they have raised more than $708,000 for the School Garden Grant Program! Do you know a school in need? Applications will be accepted through December 31, 2011. Visit Whole Kids Foundation for more details.
Episencial 2011 Green Your School Grant Preschool Program.Episencial has partnered with Ecomom, CleanWell, Revolution Foods and Eco-Kids to offer more than $30,000 in green goods and funds through the 2011 Green Your School Grant Preschool Program. For more information, visit Episencial.
Woolly School Gardens. Woolly Pockets is helping plant modular gardens at schools across the nation through their Woolly School Gardens program. Schools just need to have one teacher or manager to oversee the program, a sunny wall or fence and $1,000 to get their own outdoor garden. The garden comes complete with 50 Woolly Pockets, do-it-yourself hardware and instructions, premium soil, organic seeds, compost tea, a planting chart and gardening manual and Nutrition and Garden Curriculum Lessons. For schools that don’t have the budget, Woolly provides easy fundraising suggestions and an online fundraising platform that schools may use to raise funds for their garden. Their goal is to help thousands of more schools land their own gardens over the next year. Learn more atWoolly School Gardens.
Teens Turning Green Project Green Challenge – The Project Green Challenge seeks to engage high school and college students across the country and inspire them to transition “from conventional to conscious,” via a 30-day green lifestyle Challenge.
National Walk to School Day – This year Healthy Child is supporting EveryBody Walk http://everybodywalk.org/ and National Walk to School Day because walking (or biking) is not only great for promoting health, but it’s also a way to reduce air pollution created by vehicle exhaust. Walk more. Pollute less. Breathe easier!
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution – Get the facts, find support, and start a campaign to improve your school’s food using the tools and resources the Jamie Oliver Foundation has developed.
Healthy Schools Network – This national non-profit is working to create healthier school environments for all children. They coordinate a coalition of over 400 partners, provide a wealth of information and referral services, and coordinate the National Healthy Schools Day every April. Host your own event to raise awareness of the issue and launch a local effort to improve school environments.
The Green Flag Program – The Center for Health, Environment and Justice coordinates this student-led program to make schools healthier places to work and learn. This flexible three-step program will help you advance your schools environmental behaviors and become a shining example to others. Achieve recognition for all the good work your school already does, and improve your program with the support of teachers and field experts across the country.