Back in September, the students in the CAP Club at KIPP Sunshine Peak Academy (KSPA) started brainstorming ideas to focus on for their action project. After breaking down each idea into what would be most applicable at their school and what they felt could be best achieved they decided to focus on the issue of idling – when a car is parked for more than 10 seconds with the engine on.
“Every day there are lots of parents waiting to pick up their kids after school with their cars on” said one student. “And that is bad for nature”, another student added, “because it releases toxins into the air that cause global warming.” “And it is unhealthy for kids, especially kids like me with asthma”, a third student added.
The conversations were flowing. The students already knew a lot about the issue. They felt that it is important to educate others about it.
Soon the students started doing more research about idling; the issues and ideas on how to educate people about it. “Ms. Eva”, a student got my attention one day “look – it is even illegal to idle in a lot of places, like here in Denver even. A person can’t leave their car when it is on and they can’t have it idling for more than 5 minutes.” This student decided to make a list of the laws on idling in various Colorado cities to put on a poster.
Another student found the website turnitoff.com with some great posters and flyers with lots of facts about idling. This student was excited to share with people that idling a car for more than 10 seconds actually wastes more fuel than restarting it. Turning the engine off is actually better for the engine than leaving the car on; it only takes 30 seconds to warm up a car engine.
They wanted to go beyond creating posters and printing flyers to pass out at school pick up! The students made buttons and stickers for people who would sign a petition committing to reduce their idling. Finally, to kick off their “No Idling Campaign” the students thought it would be good to have something in their schools “Husky Weekly” newsletter.
The first week of December the Campaign kicked off; the post was in the Husky Weekly and the students were ready with lots of flyers to hand out to parents at pick up. On the first day of the campaign there were lots of folks with their cars already off in the pick up area. More turned their cars off after the students talked to them about idling and gave them a flyer.
The second week of December the students spent almost all of club time standing outside getting petitions signed and handing out stickers and buttons to folks who signed. Within the first three days of the week 2 students were able to get 16 petitions signed!
One student in particular showed up to club every time to get as many petitions signed as he could. He spoke with students waiting to be picked up, school staff, and people in their cars about idling and asking them to sign petitions. Everyone he talked to signed the petition and most of the people who had their car idling while this student was talking to them turned their car off. Over the course of the 2 weeks of the “No Idling Campaign” there was a noticeable decrease in the amount of cars at KSPA idling while picking up students. This is another great example about how just a few youth can make a positive difference in their community!
Written by CAP Instructor Eva Rain