Fresh Air for Kids
In 2020, the FAFK program needed to adapt to the new virtual learning environment, as the staff were not able to visit schools. The team pivoted instead, to providing some sessions using different strategies:
- pre-recorded videos and PDF activity sheets
- providing other sessions through pre-booked live video calls
- creating online versions of student surveys, teacher surveys, and student pledges
Even though the neighbourhood walkabout with Dr. Denis Corr was suspended due to COVID-19, school neighbourhood air quality mapping was carried out with the MECP van.
The program was re-worked such that engagement and action could take place regardless of whether students were physically present at the school to run an anti-idling campaign.
During the 2020 school year, seven schools participated in the FAFK program, out of which:
- Three completed all four modules of the program
- One completed three modules of the program
- Three completed two modules of the program.
Trees Please is a citizen science project led by Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club since 2016. This initiative collects data with a team of volunteers trained to use specialized equipment and to follow specific data collection protocols. The project includes tree inventorying (measuring, identifying and noting any changes in tree health) and collecting air quality data, specifically Particulate Matter (PM) levels.
The goal of this project is to engage residents on local issues around air quality and urban forest health by helping them understand that trees can help improve air quality, among their many other benefits.
When air quality data is layered with tree health maps, strategic tree planting areas can be determined based on those areas with high particulate pollution as well as poor tree cover. The project team then works with residents towards planting native trees in these vulnerable areas through Trees Please free tree giveaways and by partnering with the City’s Forestry and Horticulture Division in a community tree planting.
In 2020, the project was able to meet goals despite the pandemic. COVID-19 protocols included:
- Following the most up-to-date Ontario government and Hamilton Public Health guideline
- Ensuring contact tracing by requiring all volunteers to register for each session / event
- Hosting every in-person event outdoors
- Requiring staff and volunteers to wear masks
- Limiting each session to less than 10 people in total and then dividing the group into smaller groups
- Sanitizing all equipment before and after each session.