Philips Foundation launches classroom air quality program in Spain

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May 26, 2021
By the Philips Foundation team
Philips Foundation and the NGO Global Action Plan (GAP) have launched a program to improve classroom air quality in Spanish schools following a successful roll-out in schools in the United Kingdom. The program, dubbed Clean Air for Schools, will launch in schools in Bizkaia, Granada and Madrid.
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Following the successful roll-out of the Clean Air for Schools framework in the United Kingdom by GAP and the Philips Foundation, the new pilot program in Spain will provide free support to help schools implement a tailored clean air action plan. Between May and June 2021, schools participating in this initiative will receive ten air purifiers to help clean the air inside classrooms.

 

In addition, the schools will develop a series of activities such as workshops for students to learn about air pollution and create a clean air plan for the school led by teachers. They will also receive advice and educational resources from GAP and Philips Foundation to help implement the actions in the action plan.

 

The nine centers participating in the pilot program will evaluate the program and the tools used to improve and apply them in a second phase to a greater number of Spanish schools.

 

“Information and action to prevent damage to children’s health through exposure to air pollution is of paramount importance,” says Margot Cooijmans, Director of the Philips Foundation. “We need to protect school children from air pollution, a major health risk, with clear effects on learning and concentration abilities.”

 

Young children, in particular, are at risk from air pollution, as their bodies are still developing, and polluted air can cause health problems, including irreversible damage to lung function, worsening respiratory issues and even cause asthma in some cases.

 

“Research being carried out in this field indicates that air pollution also affects brain development and reduces children’s memory and learning capacity,” says Carlos Oppe, president of GAP in Spain. “In fact, a recent study suggests that reducing air pollution levels by 20% could improve the learning capacity of schoolchildren by 30 days per year,” adds Oppe.

We need to protect school children from air pollution, a major health risk, with clear effects on learning and concentration abilities.

Margot Cooijmans

Director of the Philips Foundation

Both the Philips Foundation and the GAP consider that it is essential to protect the health of children against air pollution so that they have the best opportunities in life and that new generations are as healthy and protected against future health crisis.

 

“The good news is that air pollution can be solved and there are very simple measures that schools can take to protect the health of children,” continues the president of GAP in Spain. Schools can fight air pollution by doing things like:

 

  • Reduce pollution caused by the distribution of supplies to the school by coordinating the schedule of deliveries.
  • Reduce pollution at the entrance of the school by encouraging parents and school staff to go on foot or by bicycle.
  • Encourage students to work with local agents and call for changes to make the air less polluted in their cities.
  • Promote the planting of trees that can reduce air pollution and help to provide cleaner air in the school environment.

 

Likewise, the promoters of this program believe that educating school children about air pollution and air quality can help them complete the basic curriculum of primary education. Specifically, Clean Air for Schools can be integrated into the contents of core subjects such as natural sciences and social sciences and help them work on the contents of the specific subject of social and civic values.

 

“Learning about air pollution can also help them to acquire strategies related with scientific work that promote attitudes such as curiosity, interest, rigor and precision, creativity, critical thinking, effort and autonomy in personal work, or an active and responsible attitude in tasks,” concludes the president of GAP Spain.

The good news is that air pollution can be solved and there are very simple measures that schools can take to protect the health of children

Carlos Oppe

President of GAP Spain

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