Champion health in our schools with Green Apple Day of Service 2016

Published on: 
Monday, August 22, 2016
Author: 
Amanda Sawit

Schools have a direct impact on student and teacher health. Improving cleanliness, lighting quality, indoor air quality, lunchroom nutrition and physical activity can boost health and wellness and make the school day better for students, teachers and staff. 

Join us, and together, we’ll build a healthier, brighter future for our children. Here are some ideas for how to address health in your school: 

Assess the air

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, where pollutant levels can reach levels significantly higher than outdoors. Going through an air quality audit or checklist helps identify possible sources of pollution and find solutions. 

Fun with fitness

Physical activity can come in all forms and at any time of day. Promote student and staff health by providing fun opportunities for active learning. Remember to track your impact through minutes of physical activity for students and staff, especially if you can sustain an increase over a period of time. In June, Green Sports Alliance hosted this year’s first flagship Green Apply Day of Service project at Yes Prep Northside in Houston, Texas. 

Adopt green cleaning practices

Green cleaning protects health and promotes better learning environments, reducing environmental hazards that negatively affect student growth and development. Training custodians on effective cleaning processes is essential for keeping schools healthy places for students to learn, which in turn keeps kids in school, achieving their highest potential. 

Don’t forget to track your progress: take note of minutes of physical activity, servings of fruits and vegetables eaten or reduced grams of sugar served. You can measure impacts on your school's environmental health by assessing school cleanliness, taking steps to improve lighting quality and evaluating indoor air quality through CO2 and humidity. For more ideas to support your community schools, visit greenapple.org

Have you done a Green Apple Day of Service project this year and want to share your story? Send a note to us

Sign up for Green Apple Day of Service

Growing minds with Green Apple Day of Service 2016

Published on: 
Monday, August 8, 2016
Author: 
Amanda Sawit

On Green Apple Day of Service, you can make an impact right inside the classroom. Advancing a culture of sustainability within schools means ensuring that students of all ages can acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors that prepare them to lead and succeed in green 21st century careers. 

Join us for Green Apple Day of Service 2016 and together, we’ll plant the seeds of wonder, understanding and stewardship for a more sustainable future. Here are some ideas and resources to get you started! 

Learning Lab

USGBC’s Learning Lab has fantastic online resources to help K–12 educators and their students easily implement Green Apple projects. More than 300 project-based lessons in English and Spanish are free to access throughout the month of August—just sign up for your account, and enjoy the easy-to-follow, sustainability-infused curriculum on Learning Lab. 

Fun Food Connections

You can plant a school vegetable garden to help students understand where food comes from, or engage students in preparing fresh meals or snacks that they can enjoy on the spot. Food is a great way to connect with a wide audience and talk about sustainability issues spanning topics such as social justice, economics, agriculture, operations and health. Remember to track your efforts in increased servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains eaten by students or in decreased grams of sugars served or consumed on campus. 

Dynamic Visuals

Signs and murals allow a school to show its commitment to healthy and sustainable learning environments. Great signage can teach students and the rest of the community about the green (or could-be-greener) features of classrooms, bathrooms, cafeterias and hallways. A mural is a large-scale way to remind visitors and the school community about the school’s values. Students can lend their creativity to the effort, and it’s a great way to bring the arts into your sustainability efforts. 

For more ideas on fostering environmental literacy on Green Apple Day of Service, visit greenapple.org

And don’t forget to measure your impact! Keep track of the number of minutes allocated to environmental and sustainability concepts in class, or engage students through written work, art projects or even a fun post-event survey. 

Have you implemented a Green Apple Day of Service project in your school this year and want to share your results? Send your story to us

Sign up for Green Apple Day of Service

Green Sports Alliance leads GADOS volunteers at Houston’s Yes Prep Northside

Published on: 
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Author: 
Josh Lasky

As we gear up to celebrate the 2016 Green Apple Day of Service on Sept. 24, let’s take some inspiration from the communities who have come together to make a difference in their schools thus far. 

The first Green Apple Day of Service flagship project of the year took place this past June, in conjunction with the 2016 Green Sports Alliance Summit, one of the largest gatherings for the sports community aimed at improving the environmental performance of large public spaces. The Green Sports Alliance teamed up with Connor Sports and partners HOK, Excel Dryer and USGBC Texas for a school makeover project at Yes Prep Northside charter high school in Houston, Texas. 

"It's important that we engage with the communities where we host the Summit each year and make a positive impact," said Justin Zeulner, Green Sports Alliance executive director. "The collaboration between the organizations involved in this year's Green Apple Day of Service truly exemplified 'The Power of Partnerships' theme for this year's Summit." 

Enjoy this video by @flolinemedia of our Green Apple Day of Service at @ns_pride! And special thanks to our sponsors @connorsports @hoknetwork @usgbc @drivemg #xlerator #GreenSports #GreenAppleDay

A video posted by Green Sports Alliance (@greensportsalliance) on Jun 28, 2016 at 5:29pm PDT

More than 50 volunteers constructed raised-bed planters and made improvements to schoolyard green spaces for Yes Prep’s Garden Club. The project also included upgrades to the school’s physical education storage and weight training facilities in support of student health and wellness. 

“We’re incredibly proud of the team that came together to improve Yes Prep’s school grounds and physical education facilities,” said Anisa Baldwin Metzger, school district sustainability manager of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. “Projects like this are providing much-needed transformation of school facilities while advancing a culture of sustainability and health for our children.” 

Learn more about Green Apple Day of Service

Make an impact on the school environment: Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Author: 
Jesse McElwain

Wondering how you can make an impact on the school environment? Join us for Green Apple Day of Service 2016! 

On Sept. 24, join communities around the world in making school environments healthier and more efficient spaces to learn, work and play. Here are some ideas for how to organize a Green Apple Day of Service event that focuses on reducing our collective effect on the environment: 

Reduce energy use by assessing school lighting. How, when and where is energy consumed around the school? Are there opportunities to replace old, ineffective lighting with more energy-efficient, better-quality products? Can equipment be turned off or powered down during non-use hours?

Check out this video about a recent LED lighting retrofit project at Leckie Elementary School in Washington, D.C., led by Center for Green Schools partner Energy Focus.

Rethink your school’s use of water resources. Are there opportunities to conserve water and teach students about the value of saving this important resource? Are there simple ways to put rainwater to use? (Hint: planting a school garden or installing a rain barrel are great ways to retain and reuse stormwater.) 

Reduce, reuse, recycle. What if some of the items we send to the landfill go elsewhere instead? How can we improve school recycling programs to divert as much waste from landfill as possible, and are there ways for schools to reuse nontraditional forms of waste, such as food scraps and textiles?  

Tips for measuring your impact: Take note of how many kilowatt hours of energy are saved, gallons of water conserved, pounds of waste kept out of the landfill or square feet of wildlife habitat restored or created. Then, share your accomplishments with us.

Want more ideas? Take a look at our full list of opportunities to get into your schools. 

Take action. Make an impact.

Sign up today.

More than scraping gum off desks: Green Apple Day of Service 2016

Published on: 
Monday, July 11, 2016
Author: 
Amanda Sawit

Join us on Sept. 24 for the 2016 Green Apple Day of Service, and help make an impact on schools worldwide. 

All over the world, communities are coming together to improve local schools, making an impact on the environment, supporting health and wellness and advancing environmental and sustainability literacy. School may have just gotten out for the summer, but the time is right to start a Green Apple Day event near you. 

Getting involved is easy.

Visit greenapple.org for ideas and resources, and sign up to host an event in your community. 

We make a difference together.

Since 2012, an astounding 12,660 projects have taken place under the Green Apple Day of Service banner. More than 750,000 volunteers have affected the learning environments of 7 million students in all 50 U.S. states, as well as 73 countries. 

Have a story about your involvement? We want to hear it!

This year, we’re keeping the momentum going strong and spotlighting the amazing commitments made between now and Sept. 24. Follow the Center for Green Schools on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share your stories, or email the Center. We’ll be sharing stories and photos in the weeks to come. 

We know that the school environment has a direct impact on students, teachers and staff, but unfortunately, many schools today face obstacles to promoting health and wellness in their facilities. According to the recent State of Our Schools: America’s K–12 Facilities report, the U.S. faces a projected annual shortfall of $46 billion in school funding to adequately maintain or build new schools that are healthy and efficient. The Green Apple Day of Service is your opportunity to directly address these challenges. 

Together, we can transform our schools into healthy, vibrant places to learn, work and play while teaching valuable lessons about the environment and cultivating the world’s next generation of sustainability leaders. 

Take action. Make an impact. Start today at greenapple.org.

Nairobi schools continue to grow from Green Apple Day of Service

Published on: 
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Author: 
ANN WAHINYA

Ann Wahinya is the program coordinator for the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-Free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) program, which is implemented by Global Communities in the informal settlements of Nairobi. Global Communities is an international development organization working with communities around the world to bring about sustainable changes that improve the lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable. 

For the past three years, Global Communities’ Kenya office has supported better learning environments in support of the Global Coalition for the Center for Green Schools' Green Apple Day of Service (GADOS). GADOS is a global movement promoting sustainable schools that practice, teach and support environmentally responsible choices. In October 2015, Global Communities supported three nonformal primary schools in Majengo, one of the oldest and most marginalized informal settlements in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. Nearly three months later, the schools continue to harvest the benefits of the event. 

The Global Communities team supported Child Survival Primary School, Undugu Basic Education School and St. John’s Community Primary School. In addition to raising money to help with water, sanitation and other infrastructure improvements to create more conducive learning environments, staff from Global Communities also met with teachers and students to identify critical improvements. 

Fixing critical needs

Child Survival’s floors were potholed, making seating arrangements difficult, and there was only one functional toilet for its 260 students. The head teacher shared that most girls would miss school during their menstrual cycle, because they had experienced fights and bullying from other students. At Undugu, which has 200 students, the classroom partitions were broken and walls were unpainted, making the rooms loud and dark. 

Through Global Communities’ teamwork, Child Survival Primary School now has 12 functional toilets, which has helped improve female students' confidence and reduce absenteeism. The floors in three lower primary classrooms were also leveled, promoting better seating arrangements and hygiene. One of the class teachers commented, “Since the classroom floors were renovated, the students seem more excited to come to class. We just re-opened school…and were able to clean the classrooms with water, which is a major achievement for us.”

At Undugu Community School, the team painted the classroom walls. The local government administrative unit for Majengo was inspired by the effort and joined in to paint the outer walls, toilets and an additional classroom. In addition, both Undugu and St. John’s schools received recycling bins, which are helping children learn to sort different types of waste. St. John’s is using the organic matter as fertilizer for the school garden, and the plastics are being sold to local artisans to support the school’s feeding program. Local artisans also used recycled materials, broken glass and tiles to make art for St. John’s walls, including an apple mosaic made of recycled glass in honor of GADOS. 

Celebrating teamwork

The event culminated in a ceremony at St. John’s, bringing together over 500 students, teachers, community volunteers, Global Communities staff, partner organizations and representatives from the Ministry of Education, as well as sub-county and local government. The day started with a visit to Child Survival, followed by a procession led by the school’s Boy Scouts and Girl Guides to St. John’s.

Students, teachers and volunteers planted trees to provide more shade in the schoolyard and participated in demonstrations on waste management. Students and community youth groups also provided entertainment, which delivered messages on waste management and environmental safety. The Ministry of Education’s Principal Education Officer, Mwaura Wanjohi, was a guest of honor at the event. In his speech, he recognized the continuous effort of Global Communities, and noted school infrastructure as one of the areas that the government and development partners need to focus on. 

GADOS 2015 proved that small initiatives have a huge impact. In making small but significant changes to the schools, Global Communities highlighted the challenges facing nonformal schools and their infrastructure needs. Through partnerships developed and seeds planted, GADOS continues to grow and to support students and teachers through healthier, safer and productive spaces to learn.

Learn more about Green Apple Day of Service