Help stop idling cars from spewing toxins at schools! Idle-free schools campaigns at FIVE California schools will make drivers aware of the harm and waste of idling to protect kids health and reduce CO2 emissions!
Please note that the Schools Are Not Drive-Thrus! project has raised $1,258 from combined sources.
I am Wayne Michaud, executive director of Green Driving America, a small, grassroots California-based 501c3 non-profit.
I have been passionate about transportation efficiency for 15 years - since starting the Idle-Free VT campaign in Vermont. An old school petition drive in 2006 gathered about 600 signatures on paper from Vermonters that helped in enactment of the state's school bus idling rule in 2008. The American Lung Association took an interest in my effort and awarded me as their Air Quality Champion in 2009.
Then they hired me to coordinate a Vermont fleets idling awareness program that led to 15 business and municipal fleets adopting idle reduction policies that impacted more than 1,500 trucks. By 2013, we partnered with the ALA and others to compel the state legislature to enact Vermont's prohibited idling of [all] motor vehicles law.
Soon, my idle-free campaign became a 501c3 non-profit organization and implemented funded idle reduction and green driving educational projects with fleets and in the school community. Included were idle-free schools campaigns—at 12 schools in Vermont and two in California—that reduced idling by nearly 50% overall.
Schools Are Not Drive-Thrus! is our latest project that will implement idle-free schools campaigns for the 2022-23 school year. Why that name? The prolonged idling by lines of cars at schools prior to dismissal mimics cars waiting in a drive-thru at fast food and coffee outlets, or at a bank. So we are making a statement that this harmful and wasteful practice should not be occurring at schools where the negative impact of toxic tailpipe chemicals from a caravan of idling vehicles affects children whose lungs are still developing.
Visit the Schools Are Not Drive-Thrus! webpage for full project details.
Vehicle idling can be harmful, wasteful and largely unnecessary. At many of America's more than 130,000 public schools, collectively, prolonged idling by passenger vehicles occurs as parents drop off and pick up students every school day. The pick up period is when most of this idling occurs as vehicles queue up prior to dismissal for at least 15 minutes.
We will implement up to five idle-free schools campaigns for the 2022-23 school year in Northern California with participating high, middle, and elementary schools: grades 5-12. Combined funding from your individual donations and foundation grants will make it possible to run these campaigns at no cost to schools.
WHY IDLE-FREE SCHOOLS CAMPAIGNS?
These campaigns will raise awareness throughout the school community of each participating school. Students, staff, administrators and motorists will learn the compelling benefits in avoiding or lessening idling on school grounds, simply by turning engines off:
• Based on Green Driving America Inc. past idle-free schools campaigns, idling has been reduced by nearly 50 percent
• Save money in fuel use and maintenance costs
• Reduce CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change
• Reduce fossil fuel use and energy consumption
• Most importantly: protect kids health:
The U.S. EPA Idle-Free Schools Toolkit for a Healthy School Environment states: "Idling vehicles contribute to air pollution and emit air toxins, which are pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects. Monitoring at schools has shown elevated levels of benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and other air toxics during the afternoon hour coinciding with parents picking up their children. Children’s lungs are still developing, and when they are exposed to elevated levels of these pollutants, children have an increased risk of developing asthma, respiratory problems and other adverse health effects. Limiting a vehicle’s idling time can dramatically reduce these pollutants and children’s exposure to them."
HOW THE CAMPAIGNS WORK
THEY ARE OFFERED IN TWO VERSIONS: LONG-TERM AND SHORT TERM
LONG-TERM EFFORT: FIVE STEP CAMPAIGN
A student-led measuring and educations campaign spanning five months in a school year
Step 1: Training session in early to mid fall conducted virtually (such as with Zoom) in classroom. PowerPoint and videos presentation on what idling means, its impact and how the campaign works. Includes organization provided campaign materials.
Step 2: In mid to late fall, students conduct three days data collection of passenger vehicles during the 15 to 30 minute dismissal period to determine how many of them are idling.
Step 3: School announces support for idle-free campaign in school community, including notice in school newsletter, website and social media, and optionally letter and pledge to parents. Install two provided idle-free zone signs in strategic areas.
Step 4: In late winter, students and/or staff conduct two-day driver contact event. Campaigners create idle-free posters to display at event. All drivers offered information handouts and anti-idling window cling decals. Event publicized locally and in social media.
Step 5: In early to mid spring, students again conduct data collection of vehicles during the dismissal period to determine difference in number of idling vehicles.
SHORT-TERM EFFORT: THREE STEP CAMPAIGN
A student-led educational campaign spanning six to eight weeks in a school year
To give schools the option to commit to a shorter campaign that skips the two measured data collection steps, this effort still has the full educational value and has more flexibility to start later in the school year.
ADDITIONAL CAMPAIGN BENEFITS
• Students learn organizational, analytical and communication skills as they perform data analysis, are empowered by showing drivers the significant benefits in shutting off engines when parked, and take pride in making a positive difference in their school community
• Motorists, learning of the benefits, potentially apply them beyond schools
• Opportunity to sustain these efforts: we provide participating schools a written guideline to help sustain these efforts in proceeding years. Schools are strongly encouraged to remind the school community about the benefits in idle reduction several times each year, and to consider adopting anti-idling measures on school grounds
OUR PREVIOUS IDLE-FREE SCHOOLS PROJECTS
Green Driving America previously implemented projects have included Sacramento County Idle-Free Schools and Vermont Idle-Free Schools. These projects combined to reduce idling at participating schools by nearly 50 percent.
U.S. EPA GUIDELINE FOR OUR IDLE-FREE SCHOOLS CAMPAIGNS
Green Driving America's basic guideline for our idle-free schools campaigns comes from the U.S. EPA Region 8 Idle-Free Schools Toolkit for a Healthy School Environment.
Your donations will help to enable the funding of a project that will implement five idle-free schools campaigns in the 2022-23 school year. Your donations will enable participating schools/educators to run these campaigns at no cost to them. For five campaigns, $6,000 is requested. That is $1,200 per campaign.
While this project is an absolute labor of love, it is time intensive with hundreds of hours associated with development and implementation time. Therefore, much of the funding requested will be for personnel compensation. Expenses incurred are also part of this request.
Specifics of what funds will be used for:
• Approximately $400—$40 each—for manufacturing 10 custom 15"x21" Idle Free Zone bilingual aluminum reflective signs - plus shipping two signs to each school
• Approximately $200 for printing of 250 "be idle free" window cling decals
• Miscellaneous project costs: CPA services, software subscriptions, crowdfunding fees, home office and associated utility costs
• Educator recruitment: build project webpage on the Green Driving America website to provide information for potentially interested educators; search listings of educators in California by compiling spreadsheet; sending dozens to hundreds of individual emails to educators and responding to those interested. Present Zoom overview(s) of the project to interested educators.
• Creating initial training session presentation: build an animated PowerPoint slide presentation; search for videos most effectively demonstrating the problems with idling and the benefits in avoiding it; create a teacher's campaign toolkit, handouts for students and staff to disseminate to drivers at schools, and written guidelines to school administrators for both supporting the campaign and sustaining it.
• Funding solicitations: get project word out in various forms to many hundreds of individuals and organizations such as via email and social media. To aid in this process: recruit volunteer social media marketing intern from among California universities.
• Implementing the project: as project proceeds, build webpage that provides ongoing updates as school campaigns progress, coordinate with educators and interns to arrange presentations in classes (via Zoom) given by organization executive director Wayne Michaud. Wayne will work closely with each school to coordinate the driver contact event (Step 4) including working with a school and/or district communications to get the word out in social media and local broadcast and print media.
WHAT IF THE FUNDING GOAL OF $6,000 IS NOT REACHED?
Implementing six idle-free schools campaigns will maximize the project impact and the difference made. But our ability to implement it is not an "all or nothing" stipulation! We have the flexibility to implement the number of campaigns that the funding of the project allows, whether that would be two, four, or more.
Green Driving America Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization* based in Sacramento County, California. Wayne Michaud is the founder and Executive Director of the organization. Green Driving America is served by six Board of Directors members.
*IRS determination letter; California Secretary of State certificate of amendment to articles of incorporation: name change to Green Driving America
Green Driving America is committed to helping drivers make transportation choices in their lives that will benefit the planet and themselves. To achieve this goal, we place emphasis on practicing green driving methods to improve driving behavior, making the choice to drive a vehicle that consumes less fuel or no fuel at all, for consideration of choosing alternatives to driving, and for reducing the harm and waste of unnecessary vehicle idling.
Please visit the Green Driving America website ABOUT page for more details on the organization's mission, background, and listing of board of directors.
My passion for being a transportation efficiency advocate and educator has led to being presented with two clean air champion awards: from the American Lung Association of Vermont in 2009 (pictured above) and from the East Bay Clean Cities Coalition in California in 2019 (pictured here).
Thank you for your interest!
This article in The Ubanist very nicely describes the problem with the school drop off and pick up transportation issue the Schools Are Not Drive-Thrus! project would like to address. https://www.theurbanist.org/2018/10/25/car-based-school-commutes-hurt-families-with-kids/
Please donate now to help make one, two, three, or more idle-free schools campaigns happen this coming school year!
Wayne Michaud tabled at the Sacramento Earth Day event April 24th to promote the Schools Are Not Drive-Thrus! project. We had some interest from parents and teachers who learned more about the idling issue and how an idle-free schools campaign can make a difference.
Thanks to a recent Facebook Fundraiser created by a caring individual, $420 in donations were raised for the project! We now have raised $1,126 from individual donations! We are working on foundation funding to bring in more funds that will allow us to implement more idle-free schools campaigns: to reduce unnecessary idling on school grounds that will reduce carbon emissions, keep some oil in the ground, and help protect children's growing lungs!
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