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Air Quality

Here’s How One Teenager is Taking A Stand Against Car Idling

Every day after school for the past three years, I have walked past the same line of cars, smelled the same stench of exhaust, and felt the same need for action.

By Amelia B.

Every day after school for the past three years, I have walked past the same line of cars, smelled the same stench of exhaust, and felt the same need for action. Finally, last fall, I did something about it. First, I researched car idling and its effects on our lungs. Soon I knew all about particulate matter, the effects of car idling on our atmosphere and climate, how much money is wasted by idling, and more! I also found plenty of toolkits online, like the one on Once I had the facts, I compiled a slideshow and some flyers. For the next few months, I passed out informational flyers after school with my best friend Natalie. I also worked on some sample info sheets, pledge sheets, and a petition with 60+ signatures on it. I took it to a couple of groups for feedback.

The first group that gave me helpful insights was my Girl Scout Troop. I’ve known them since first grade, and we are all really close. I gave a short presentation, passed out info, and fielded questions. The feedback was encouraging and gave me confidence to continue with this movement. The second group was a bit more formal, the School Site Council at my middle school. I brought along my info sheets and petition, and after gaining some support from them, I talked to my principal, Dr. Dawes. She gave me the go-ahead for the next step of my plan.

Image courtesy Amelia B.

I wanted to spread the word to everyone in the entire school, and I knew that flyer distribution after school just wasn’t enough. To make sure everyone got the message, I designed a pledge and information sheet. The top half has important facts about car idling’s negative effects, and the bottom half has space for the parents to pledge to their kids and other students that they will turn off their engines. These sheets went out to 1,000 students, with great responses.

At the same time, I had been working on banner designs. After a lot of glitches, frustration, and mysteriously deleted designs, I had two large banners reading, “No Idling: Children Breathing.”

Image courtesy Amelia B.

The word was out, the banners were on display, and the No Idling Project was underway. That’s when we hit a little bump in the road. I arrived at school to find that one of the banners was gone. The only thing left on the fence was four metal ringlets where the corners of the banner used to be. Somebody had cut it down! To solve that problem, we installed metal signs. Now, there are two metal signs and a banner up at school.

Image courtesy Amelia B.

Take a look at my website! There’s lots of useful information and I hope it inspires you to start a No Idling Project of your own:

The No Idling Project

Image courtesy: Amelia B.

About the author: Amelia B. I’m an 8th-grader at Cabrillo Middle School in Ventura, California. I am interested in electric cars, sustainable energy, and helping solve the climate crisis. I am looking forward to going to high school next year, and plan to always be an activist.

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