One of the things I love about working for Air Alliance Houston is that we will find a way to work with anyone in a way that makes sense for them. Public education is at the core of our mission to provide clean air and a healthy future to Houston, and we’ll bring that educational opportunity to anyone, for free, regardless of age, education, or inclination.
Our youth education program, Ozone Theater, reached more than 6,400 students last school year. We are on pace to exceed that number this year. One of our Ozone Theater lessons, Air Pollution Solutions, is designed for middle school students. But when we were approached recently by St. Catherine’s Montessori school, we saw an opportunity to offer a bit more than we could in a single hour lesson.
This was a class of six students who had elected to be in a program to learn about air quality. They needed a bit more special attention, and we were able to give it to them. We started last Monday with two hours in the classroom. The first hour included an Air Pollution 101 presentation that is very similar to that we give to adults. The second hour was a field test of a new lesson we have created for high school students. (This lesson is still being field-tested. If you are interested in bringing it to your school, please email me.)
After two hours, the St. Catherine’s students had a much better understanding of air pollution in Houston, and what Air Alliance Houston is doing about it. It was time to bring their knowledge outside of the classroom.
Two days later, we embarked together on a “toxic tour,” a tour of Houston’s petrochemical complex and environmental justice communities that offers an unparalleled view of the impacts of the energy industry on Houstonians. (If you’ve ever heard me speak, you may have heard my story about how a toxic tour in 2008 with our predecessor organization GHASP set me on a path that led directly to my current position as director of Air Alliance Houston.) Over three hours, I led seven students and one teacher on their very own toxic tour, showing them firsthand what we see in Houston, and again, what we are doing about it.
I hope that, with these two visits, I’ve created some young air quality advocates at St. Catherine’s Montessori. I also hope that I will have an opportunity in the future to talk to them–and their parents–about how they can support us and our work. Air Alliance Houston is fortunate to be able to deliver air quality and public health education to anyone in Houston who asks for it. We have always done so for free, and with your support, we will continue to do so.
Thank you to the administrators, teachers, parents, and students of St. Catherine’s Montessori school!