World Environment Day 2003 may have passed quietly for some. But should you have zoomed in on Victorian Primary Schools you’d have found a hive of activity and excitement: the Smogbusters Day of Change was on, and over 13,000 Victorian school children were making their stand for clean air.
Fifty-one primary schools participated in the 2003 Day of Change for World Environment Day, making it the biggest yet. Their efforts paid off, with the just-tallied final survey revealing an estimated 6,700 fewer kilometres travelled by car. This is the equivalent of a trip to Perth and back! The reduction in car use meant that the students prevented 1.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the air we breathe.
Smogbusters had guided the schools through a program of sustainable transport education, beginning two weeks prior to World Environment Day with a survey of the pollution produced by their normal ‘getting to school’ travel habits.
On the Day of Change, the aim was to reduce this pollution by as much as possible. Children took charge, educating their parents about the benefits of sustainable transport, and making sure those car-keys stayed on the hook. ‘World Environment Day’ was not just a gimmick to these students, and they stepped out in walking shoes, rollerskates, on bikes, scooters and skateboards, or dragged their parents onto public transport or organised car-pools.
Schools were flooded with kids tramping, gliding and rolling through the gates, and many greeted their students with prizes, special breakfasts and in the case of a few lucky schools, a performance by Captain Smogbuster, the Breathtaking Superhero.
“The kids did an amazing job” said event organiser at Smogbusters, Damien Brosnan. “Registrations for the day just kept coming in- It just goes to show what a genuine desire there is out there in the community to do something about air pollution and improving community health”.
“Schools of late have increasingly been seeing traffic mayhem at ‘drop-off’ and ‘pick-up’ times”, says Environment Victoria’s sustainable transport coordinator, Rachel Carlisle. “With 54% of Victoria’s primary school students living within 2km of their schools, there is plenty of opportunity to reverse this concerning trend. It’s great to see children leading the way and moving us all towards sensible and sustainable transport solutions”.
No doubt even the backyard dogs sniffed with extra enthusiasm, at the clean, smog free sky on World Environment Day. Smogbusters congratulate all the students, parents and teachers who participated in the day on their inspiring result and thank the Department of Infrastructure for its financial support.