Fresh Air for Kids is Green Venture’s air quality education program. Originally targeted to grade 5-8 students, we’re now thrilled to offer it to high school classes.
So what is Fresh Air for Kids about? Overall, the program introduces students to the importance of air quality, and empowers them to make personal changes to improve the air quality in their community. But let’s dive in a little deeper.
Our new version of Fresh Air for Kids is divided into three different, entirely virtual, modules. The modules are designed to build on each other, but can also be completed individually. This way, high school classes can fit the program specifically to their own needs and timelines. The first module introduces the composition of the atmosphere and what pollution is, the second explores the impact of poor air quality on human health, and the third focuses on our local air quality.
So why is air quality so important?
To start, there are two major gases in the atmosphere – nitrogen and oxygen. Nitrogen makes up about 78%, and oxygen 21%. The last 1% is made up of everything else, referred to as trace gases.
Included in these trace gases are gases emitted by humans, called air pollutants. In Ontario, the main pollutants in the troposphere are nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, volatile organic compounds, and fine particulate matter. These pollutants are also considered greenhouse gases, which trap long wave radiation close to the surface of the Earth and contribute to climate change. Most of these gases and particles are produced by human activity. These sources include transportation, factories, power plants, homes, construction, and paints. Some of these pollutants come from natural sources, which can include volcanoes and wildfires. However, human made sources contribute far more.
Air pollution can affect people with breathing and lung conditions, including: asthma and allergies. It also affects people with heart conditions, including: arrhythmia, heart failure, and hypertension. It can also increase the risk of stroke. Over 14,000 premature deaths in Canada each year are linked to poor air quality. The total economic cost of health impacts associated with air quality is estimated at $114 billion per year.
The solution is less pollution. At the end of the program, students are asked to make a change in their lives that will help improve air quality and their health – whether its walking instead of driving, cutting down on idling time, or giving up candles and air fresheners.
Youth have been critical in the environmental movement, and we’re going to grow youth climate action leaders in Hamilton.
Interested in the program? Want to learn more about it? Register your class here.