Towards the end of last term Newmarket School have taken part in the Flat Connections Global Project, ‘A Week in the life.’ I am one of the lead teachers in the project and I oversee 5 global student teams under the theme of ‘Environmental Impact on Health’. One sub theme is to do with Air Quality of which is important to me. I am Newmarket School’s Travelwise Lead Teacher. I have found out that Auckland city has double the air pollution of Sydney and sometimes our air quality is on par with Tokyo. As a school that is situated right beside the Auckland motorway and our school entrance shares the same road as one of that motorways busiest arterial routes, I have concerns about what we as a school can do to raise awareness about the quality of our city’s air.
I have been the Travelwise lead teacher for three years now. This week the Travelwise team contributed their part to helping Auckland’s air pollution problem by leading the whole school in a Walk2School Campaign. I wanted the children to realise that our city’s air problem is our problem and whatever small part we can play will help an overall global effort.
It has been an interesting learning curve for me to try and sit back and encourage the students to lead. I worked with 4 main members and each had a task to oversee with support.
The main leader began drafting the week towards the end of last term as part evidence for his leadership badge. He created a poster advertising the campaign and then stood up at an earlier school assembly this term to highlight the upcoming event.
He brought on board a second Travelwise member who agreed to support and help. She helped with advertising.
A third member was brought in who suggested setting up a google form to collate data.
This week the campaign was carried out and the rest of the Travelwise team were involved by walking with a designated teacher around our school to help provide incentives for children who are dropped off. Each day a staff member agreed to become involved and take their turn with the Travelwise team.
A fourth Travelwise member collated all the data and kept track of the kilometers covered. At the end of the week we had walked 681km. While we did not walk the length of New Zealand as targeted we did manage to pass Hamilton. Next year we will run the campaign each term and aim for Bluff by December.
Each day one Travelwise member took the list of children who took part in either walking to and from school and or walked or ran around the school during break times and randomly selected a winning student. They won a daily Travelwise prize consisting of goodies distributed by Travelwise.
At the end of the week a special draw was taken and included in the big prize was a 3D medal crafted by a year 4 student and printed using our 3D printer kindly donated by Newmarket Rotary.
From our total school 167 children took part over the week or approximately 60% of our school. Some staff members also took part including our principal Dr Kofoed who walked to school and caught the bus home.
This campaign is a beginning of something bigger that I have planned for next year with the Travelwise team.
Our next step is to learn more about air pollution in our city and at the end of next week we have a skype session set up with an air scientist from the Auckland regional council. My next step as a lead teacher in the Flat Connection Global student project is having the students compare cities air quality and list some steps that they can take to help the cause.
Air quality is important because it is part of our environment. Like other important natural resources we need to look after our air.
Of course being the Travelwise Lead Teacher, I walked every day. But I did not win any prizes.