Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 3, 2011

by Kathy Chaffin
The Center for the Environment’s website now includes a “No Idling Toolkit,” which outlines steps for schools wanting to reduce idling by parents dropping off students in the mornings and picking them up in the afternoons.
Shelia Armstrong, air quality outreach coordinator for the Center, helped design the “No Idling” program for the China Grove Middle School Green Team as part of the Center’s Campaign for Clean Air. She and intern Kacey Hoover used knowledge gained from the school’s program in the toolkit and included feedback and photos of China Grove Middle students participating in the activities.
In addition to reducing the exposure to vehicle emissions and improving the local air quality, the purpose of the no idling program includes raising awareness about the health risks to students and costs of vehicle idling as well as promoting behavioral changes.
The toolkit, which will offer even more information later, includes a checklist for designing a program, frequently asked questions and myths and facts about idling and air quality, instructions on starting a Green Team and data collection, suggested student activities, a media kit and “lessons learned” from the pilot program.
The 10 steps for creating a Green Team, for example, range from making and putting up posters explaining the purpose of the team to making the PTA aware of the purpose and activities so parents can encourage child involvement.
Suggested student activities include a breathing challenge during which “students are able to simulate the difficulty in breathing under different sets of conditions and are, therefore, able to make connections to the importance of cleaning our air.”
“The Center staff is currently expanding the toolkit, tying it to state Middle School Curriculum Competency Goals,” Armstrong says.  “We will relate the no idling program to specific air quality educational goals.”
She notes that a school in Cabarrus County will soon implement a no idling program on its campus. The link for the No Idling Toolkit is