Meg Fencil, Education and Outreach Director
Sustain Charlotte Hosts Sustainable Transportation Fair for Youth
Sustain Charlotte, in cooperation with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, hosted a Sustainable Transportation Fair on Friday, July 31 for approximately 100 youth ages 7 to 14 enrolled in summer day camp at the Arbor Glen Outreach Center in west Charlotte. The fair was part of Sustain Charlotte’s Sustainable Neighborhoods Program, which is funded by Wells Fargo, UTC Aerospace Systems, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Park Foundation, and New Belgium Brewing. Earlier this year, Sustain Charlotte worked with youth at Arbor Glen to create neighborhood visions and traffic calming signs.
Fair activities were hosted by Mecklenburg County Air Quality, Charlotte Area Air Awareness, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), Clean Air Carolina, Trips for Kids, Mecklenburg County Health Department, Charlotte Department of Transportation, and Alta Planning + Design. Volunteers from the Wells Fargo Green Team and Sustain Charlotte helped to plan and run the fair.
Charlotte Department of Transportation's pedestrian planner Scott Curry introduced the youth to Charlotte's newpedestrian plancalled Charlotte WALKS. He gave each child green and blue dots to place on large boards to indicate the amenities they most value when they walk. The input collected from this activity will be tallied and incorporated into final development of the pedestrian plan.
Katie Lloyd fromAlta Planning + Design led an activity called Unraveling Neighborhood Routes in which youth measured distances from homes to schools and other locations using a very large floor map and string. They learned how land use and street design affects travel time and accessibility.
Transit Trivia was in full swing as Ashley Elliott fromCharlotte Area Transit System (CATS) quizzed the youth on safety around buses, light rail, and streetcar. They also learned how to read printed transit timetables and how to seek more information about routes.
At theCharlotte Area Air Awareness andMecklenburg County Air Quality station, Tara Onufrak gave each kid a cup of clean water. They added drops of dye to the water to simulate pollution from different types of transportation to and from school: no drops for walking or biking, one drop for riding the bus, two drops for carpooling, and three drops for riding alone with a parent. The youth then poured their cups together into a fish bowl to simulate how the actions of each person combine to make air quality either better or worse.
Clean Air Carolina’s Terry Lansdell led an activity calledSmog City 2, a computer simulation that allowed the youth to experiment with weather, vehicle activity level, and population size to learn how these factors collectively affect air quality.
In the lobby, Harry Johnson fromTrips for Kids Charlotte and Dick Winters fromMecklenburg County Health Department set up a simulated intersection complete with child-sized cars and bikes. They created several safety scenarios and asked the youth how to stay safe in each situation. They then worked with groups of two or three youth to identify potential safety hazards on a worksheet
Each participant earned stickers by completing activities and put these onto a "Transportation Passport" to be eligible for a grand prize drawing featuring t-shirts (donated by Clean Air Carolina), bike helmets (donated by Active Routes to School and Trips for Kids), and a reusable lunch bag (donated by NC Air Awareness).
More information and photos are available through the blog post about the event:
Sustain Charlotte is a nonprofit organization working to advance a region-wide sustainability movement by serving as a catalyst for change. Our mission is to inspire choices that lead to a healthier and more vibrant community for generations to come. For more information visit www.sustaincharlotte.org.