Moving in the right direction: sustainable transportation with Youthquake!

Summer in North Carolina is in full swing: long sunny days, temperatures in the ‘80s, and humidity even higher… oh, and for those of us at Sustain Charlotte, the chance to go back to summer camp! On Thursday, July 19th, we hosted a Sustainable Transportation Fair in partnership with the Progressive Baptist Church’s summer camp, YouthQuake!. We invited governmental departments and nonprofits from all over the city to Arbor Glen Outreach Center, to teach the campers about how transportation choices affect their health, safety, and community.

The younger contingent, made up of kids aged 6-10, rotated between 4 stations over the course of the 2-hour event. David Caldwell, Leslie Nut-Komlah, and Deena Russo from LUESA’s Stormwater Division set up a dynamic demonstration of how pollution- from litter, vehicles, and other sources- affects the health of streams and other waterways. Alisha Pruett from the Bulb used seed planters and clay pots, which the campers decorated, to talk about the importance of local food. When the seeds sprout, the pots will be given to seniors at Progressive Baptist Church, many of whom have helped us with our Senior Mobility Project.

After some of the inside stations, the younger kids got to run around outside a bit with Charlotte Cadieux from Trips for Kids, playing “Red Light Green Light” and “Simon Says” with biking hand signals, as well as designing their dream bike (complete with rocket boosters and bubbles, in a few cases). This message of collective responsibility was reinforced by Katie Lloyd from Mecklenburg Parks and Rec, who gave a great presentation about how to travel safely on Charlotte’s many greenways (such as Irwin Creek, directly behind Arbor Glen!) while respecting other users and the wildlife that call these spaces home. While they listened, campers colored on a collective mural that will hopefully be displayed in the Outreach Center!

The older kids, ages 10-15, moved around Arbor Glen’s newly redone gym, visiting 5 different stations. Calvin Cupini and Cameron France from Clean Air Carolina gave an air-quality monitor tutorial, showing the newly minted “air-quality doctors” how the sensors can tell how safe it is to breathe outside, then taking them on an outdoor adventure to collect data in real time. Courtney Schultz from CATS played “transit Jenga” and a spun a trivia wheel, testing the campers’ knowledge of buses and blue lines alike, and sending them home with prizes.

Sena McCrory and Emma Rose Parker from the Catawba Lands Conservancy talked about green space stewardship, incorporating group games about conserving the great outdoors, and Staci Clark of Mecklenburg Air Quality gave a great demonstration using jars and marbles about the cumulative impact of emissions on air pollution. CDOT brought the whole crew, with Amy Mitchell, Alex Riemondy, and Angela Berry working an interactive crosswalk mat, while Atrium Health’s Janice Williams and CMPD’s Justin Kupfer conducting a virtual reality experience, complete with goggles and a digital streetscape.

About 130 YouthQuake! campers participated in the event, and we couldn’t have pulled this off without patience, dedication, and a little lighthearted fun from everyone involved. Not only did all of our partners come through in spades, but we had great support on the ground from volunteers from Wells Fargo, who donated their time and energy to keep things running smoothly. We at Sustain Charlotte would like to say one last big thank you to everyone who helped make the fair happen, and to keep an eye out for plans for next year!

Sustain Charlotte’s partnership with West Boulevard residents is funded by Wells Fargo.

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