Bhubaneswar: SwitchON Foundation on the occasion of Earth day announced setting up of real time air quality monitors across leading schools and institutions across the states of Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal. This initiative is supported by the Clean Air Toolbox Program of Columbia University, New York. These air quality monitoring Centers will be setup across the most polluted or non-attainment cities with the objective to make children and youth aware about the air pollution to inspire them to protect themselves and take positive action. SwitchON Foundation team along with experts and advisors will train students on how to use the air quality data from these monitors and government monitors, prepare reports and spread awareness amongst their campus and community and take positive action through the school academic year. There are multiple organizations supporting the interschool clean air championship program are Earth Day Network, WWF, Garbage free India, National Museum of Natural History, Ministry of Forest Environment and Climate Change. The Air Quality Monitors will report minute-by-minute changes in the air quality levels and provide alerts if pollution levels rise.
With setting up multiple air quality monitors in, SwitchON Foundation sets forth the Inter School Clean Air Championship Programme where more than 100 schools will be onboarded. Inter School Clean Air Championship Programme will create awareness amongst students on Air Pollution through training via SwitchON’s unique online learning management platform, students will organise and participate in workshops, events, competitions through the year. specifically on days like Environment Day, World Health Day etc Schools will take up projects such as waste management drives in their schools and at the leading schools will be awarded for their innovation and reach at the end of the year based on a grading system, a panel of Juries will announce awards to participating schools based on their creativity, outreach and the impact their activity on the environment.
Commenting on the initiative of Inter School Clean Air Championship Programme, Professor V. Faye McNeill and Vice Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Columbia University, and Vice President, American Association for Aerosol Research. said, “Air pollution is a global health hazard. Urgent action is needed, beginning with sharing the right knowledge. The Columbia University in the City of New York. `The Columbia University Clean Air Toolbox Initiative Clean Air Toolbox Initiative is happy to guide and support SwitchON Foundation in their program in which low-cost, real-time air quality monitors are being installed in schools and hosted by citizen groups. Data will play a crucial role in raising awareness and inspiring clean air and climate action.”
Experts say children are more vulnerable to pollution because their lungs are underdeveloped and their immune systems are weaker. And yet, nine out of 10 children around the world are breathing in toxins that exceed safe levels. Over the years, the situation has become critical, even global bodies like UNICEF have predicted that air pollution will become the leading cause of child mortality by 2050.
Supporting this initiative, Mr. Manfred Auster, Consul-General of the Federal Republic of Germany Kolkata (Calcutta) said, “Air pollution is a serious health concern and it affects all of us, but children are particularly at risk. Change has to start with all of us and building children’s awareness is key, because they can then start mobilizing family and friends to take action on the issue. I congratulate SwitchON Foundation for their work on this issue and particularly the launch of the intra school competition to take action on air pollution.”
Prof. Chandradeep (CD) Mitra teaches at IIM Calcutta, XLRI, SPJIMR & MICA, & served twice as Chairperson, Board of Governors of Calcutta International School said, “Children & youth are major stakeholders in climate change, so its important that they play an key role in addressing the global air pollution crisis. The Inter-School Clean Air Championship championed by SwitchON Foundation is a commendable initiative to help galvanize schools & children come together for a cleaner and healthier future.”
Mr. Vinay Jaju, Managing director of SwitchON Foundation said, “SwitchON Foundation believes that children and youth are leaders of tomorrow, it is crucial for them to understand the significance of sustainable living and take concrete steps to address the issue of air pollution. The interschool clean air championship provides a unique opportunity for schools to not only learn about the importance of clean air, but also actively engage in efforts to improve air quality in their campuses and communities”.
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