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New Climate for Action: Getting to School

2008 October 6

Photo of Children\'s Health Office InternMy name is Ashley, and this semester I have the privilege to work at the EPA Office of Children’s Health Protection and Environmental Education. I am so excited to spend the next couple of months writing blog entries in order to give middle and high school students a voice to express their own thoughts and feelings on issues like global climate change. Let me start off by mentioning a few things about myself.

What brought me to Washington D.C…

Originally I am from Bolingbrook, Illinois which is about 30 minutes away from Chicago. I am finishing up my last year at Indiana University with a degree in Public Finance. During my junior year in college, I heard about this exciting program called WLP, the Washington Leadership Program. The second I heard about WLP, it instantly caught my attention. WLP offers students the opportunity to spend a semester in Washington DC, in my case, during an exciting time of the year; the presidential election. Students get the chance to experience DC during a fun time in their life, gain practical experience in an area of interest, meet influential people, and take classes up on the Hill. How amazing is that? Not bad for a student.

I wanted to work at OCHPEE after learning the office focuses on environmental health threats and contributes in so many ways to helping parents as well as middle and high school students become environmentally conscious. During my time here at OCHPEE, I want to hear your story including your activities to address global climate change. Your activities can inspire others.

Let’s get started on this week’s topic.

Today many kids are driven to school by their parents rather than taking the bus, walking, or riding a bike. This increases traffic and energy use. Choosing to walk, ride a bicycle or school bus, or even take public transportation, reduces air pollution. Air pollutants can harm kids and cause respiratory problems. Children have respiratory systems that are not fully developed and they are often involved in activities where they breathe deeply and take in toxic air pollutants. Because October 8th is International Walk to School Day we want to hear what you are doing to reduce energy use getting to and from school and other activities. Have you talked to your friends and classmates? What has your school done? Your activities can inspire others so tell us what you’re doing. Send us pictures.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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25 Responses leave one →
  1. Joan permalink
    October 6, 2008

    Hi Ashley, I no longer have school-age kids, but I live down the street from an elementary school. Every morning I see dozens of cars lined up, idling in a left-turn lane, waiting to drop their kids off in front of the school. Though the neighborhood is a nice one, and there are designated bike/pedestrian paths, few children seem to arrive other than by car. Everybody’s in a hurry to get somewhere else. Hopefully this trend will turn around someday. Good luck with your public awareness campaign!

  2. michael permalink
    October 6, 2008

    Ashley – great suggestion about walking to school – less air pollution and the extra exercise is good for your health too!

  3. Misty Munoz permalink
    October 6, 2008

    I am currently a college student at SOU in Ashland, Or. I started riding the city bus to and from school last year when gas prices reached 3.50+ per gallon in Jackson County Oregon. When I decided to take the city bus to and from college it was the first time I had taken public transportation since 1996. I realized for the first time public transportation is so easy to use and is a valuable commodity to our cities and states. Since the re-discovery of the city bus I have boasted about being a bus rider and have encouraged many others to do the same. I hope by writing this it will also encourage many readers to challenge themselves by ditching their cars and support city transportation when commuting to work or school!

  4. Ashley-EPA permalink
    October 7, 2008

    Hi Joan, you are absolutely right. Everybody is in a hurry these days to get somewhere else. People may not realize how beneficial it could be to use other means for transportation. Students can reduce so much air pollutant just by walking, riding a bicycle or school bus or taking public transportation to school. Students have an opportunity to make a difference. I hope this campaign can inspire students and everyone else to do their part to create a better environment.

  5. Ashley-EPA permalink
    October 7, 2008

    Thanks Michael!

  6. Ashley-EPA permalink
    October 7, 2008

    Hi Misty, I love it! I am so excited about your efforts to encourage others to be a bus rider. I certainly can identify with being a college student. With gas prices these days, it seems like public transportation is the way to go. Ever since I moved out here to DC, I found myself taking the metro to everywhere I go. My life couldn’t be more convenient. It is great.

  7. Ashley permalink
    October 7, 2008

    Wow! I used to live in Bolingbrook too, what a coincidence! Anyway I’m in college so I walk everywhere and often encourage others to do the same. Good luck on your blog!

  8. Ashley-EPA permalink
    October 8, 2008

    Thanks Ashley.

  9. Courtney permalink
    October 8, 2008

    Hi Ashley! I am a student living in a beautiful college town, and I wanted to tell you how I’ve been shrinking my ecological footprint. Since I’ve been back at school I have barely driven my car, choosing to walk everywhere and carpooling whenever possible. It’s been a month and a half since I’ve been back in Bloomington and I have only had to fill up my gas tank once! I’ve also co-founded an organization on campus called ‘Greeks Go Green,’ through which environmentally concerned fraternity and sorority members are banding together to make our school a green place!

  10. Mateo permalink
    October 9, 2008

    I walk to school three days a week to help the environment.

  11. Tricey permalink
    October 9, 2008

    Ashley, to help climate control I ride the vanpool along with 9 other people, not only does it help the environment I save lots of cash in gas. It’s awesome!

  12. Ryan permalink
    October 9, 2008

    Hi Ashley,
    I think what your doing is absolutely amazing! Unfortunately, I can’t walk to school for safety reasons, but, my brother (who goes to a different school) rides with me in the car when going to school. I’m sure one car on the road is better than two.
    Good luck at your leadership conference!

  13. Jackie Lange permalink
    October 11, 2008

    Hi Ashley,

    My name is Jackie. I love your initiative to improve the environment. I am currently attending high school in Chicago’s inner city. I agree with students walking to school, or taking the bus to school when the winter comes. I like the new initiatives and I am glad that the epa is doing something about this issue because we need to save our environment! Thank You for the blog!

    -Jackie Lange

  14. Kim permalink
    October 13, 2008

    Hi Ashley! I think that your idea is really good! I must admit though that I drive to school everyday because it is out of walking distance, but since reading this blog, I am inspired to begin taking public transportation a few days a week to save money and help the environment! Keep up the good work!

  15. Bet Savich permalink
    October 14, 2008

    Hi Ashley! It looks like DC is treating you right. I agree wholeheartedly with the initiative and want to add that, in our area, we (the taxpaying public) are paying for school buses to run all over the district to pick up kids that aren’t there. At the beginning of the year, the parents say they need to have their kids picked up, but they really mean “just in case”. So the school buses drive all over and run half full. It’s a huge waste all the way around. Take care of yourself!

  16. Ashley-EPA permalink
    October 16, 2008

    That’s excellent Courtney! I appreciate you sharing with me the things you do to shrink your ecological footprint. On campus, I did the same thing. I walked everywhere. There were times I wouldn’t wait for the bus. It was easier for me to walk to class because I got there a lot sooner than I would if I took the bus. Plus, it was good exercise. However, whenever I was too tired to walk home, I would simply enjoy the pleasure of riding the bus home from school or work. It was great. In addition to walking or riding the bus, you can save so much money in the process.

    As for “Greeks Go Green”, I’m very excited about your efforts to protect our environment and to share your dedication with others. Thank you for your comments! Keep up the good work.

  17. Ashley-EPA permalink
    October 16, 2008

    Wow Mateo-that’s great! You can encourage a lot of your peers to be more energy-efficient just by walking to school. Good job

  18. Ashley-EPA permalink
    October 16, 2008

    Hi Tricey-Vanpooling is an excellent way to help reduce greenhouse gases. You and the 9 other people are being energy conscious. Plus, you can save a lot of gas money by vanpooling! I can’t push this enough. Thanks for telling us how you help protect our environment.

  19. Ashley-EPA permalink
    October 16, 2008

    Well thank you Ryan. I appreciate it. And one car is better than two. So you’re absolutely right. Try to encourage others to do the same and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Check out and become a Climate Ambassador.

  20. Ashley-EPA permalink
    October 16, 2008

    Hi Jackie Lange-One of things I appreciate about EPA is it helps educate people about the environment and encourage others to take action to address global climate change. The more people are educated and aware of global climate change and its effects, the more we can do. Our efforts count! For more ideas, check out

  21. Ashley-EPA permalink
    October 16, 2008

    Kim, that’s very impressive. The purpose of this campaign as you know is to encourage others to take action. I appreciate your honesty and most importantly appreciate your efforts to be more conscious about the environment. I believe others will be encouraged by your efforts to take action. Check out and find more ways to take action.

  22. Ashley-EPA permalink
    October 16, 2008

    Hi Bet-Thanks for your comments and yes, D.C is treating me right. If your community is safe and walk-able, then parents should encourage children to walk to school. Then everyone wins.

  23. Maddie permalink
    October 26, 2008

    I wish I could walk or ride my bike to school, but I live too far away. I have my parents drive me because the bus is awful and chaotic. The other people on my bus make me miserable and although I want to help the environment, I would rather help my sanity. Thank you for your thought, if i ever live in a more walking- friendly neighborhood, I will remember this. However, what i do to help right now is I try to carpool with friends to extra-curricular activities.

  24. Ashley-EPA permalink
    October 29, 2008

    Hi Maddie-carpooling, in your case, is the safest and most convenient way to safe the environment. Good job and thank you for your comment.

  25. Zac permalink
    October 3, 2009


    Walking to school/work – if possible – is a great idea. So what if it is an extra 10 minutes its good for the environment AND your health!

    – Zac

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