by Willie Adicoff
The ERC’s youth education mission is a challenging one. Getting students involved with issues that they won’t notice until they are older is no easy task. This is especially true when we delve into climate change – a problem involving a gas we cannot see and consequences that are not well understood. However, our implementation of the Cool the Earth program (www.cooltheearth.org) with the I Have A Dream Foundation students at Alturas Elementary has been off to a great start.
For those that don’t know, Cool the Earth is an education and action-oriented program designed to get kids in elementary schools across the nation involved in the future health of our local communities and our world. It starts off with a skit to get kids excited to stop “Mr. Carbon” from wreaking havoc on our earth. Then, students fill out action coupons with ideas on how to reduce their own carbon emissions. The Cool the Earth organization has done a great job in making lessons interesting and fun and encouraging actions that are effective and cost free. The ERC also feels fortunate to be collaborating on this program with the Wood River YMCA.
From the very first day we implemented this program, it became apparent why we are doing it. “Common knowledge” to us is new information for these kids. Many learned about idling for the first time when we showed, using balloons, that turning off the car when stopped saves both emissions and money. In fact, the program as a whole is an introduction to global warming for most students. Not only are the kids learning new concepts, they are acting on them. Last Wednesday, students had turned in countless action coupons for small raffle prizes. One student even mentioned she wanted to see Koda again (the polar bear protagonist from the opening skit) because she was a big fan. These experiences show the Cool the Earth program to be both needed and effective in our local elementary schools. After all, the students of today will inherit the world of tomorrow.