It seems like around every corner, the topic of “health” leads the conversation. Of course, COVID-19 has a lot to do with that. But at Earth Force, the pandemic hit us at the same time we reached a milestone: This past spring, for the first time, a group of our students successfully convinced a state government to change a state law. They advocated for updated standards for indoor air quality monitoring and remediation in schools. And at the same time, the U.S. Green Building Council announced its new vision, “healthy people in healthy places equals a healthy economy,” which outlines a series of actions and priorities that support the global recovery effort and leverage the power of the green building community to shape a healthier future for all.
And it makes sense. From the health of ourselves, to the health of our families and loved ones, to the health of our air and our buildings, to the health of the economy, to the health of the planet – everyone wants to have the ability to thrive. The Living Standard reports touch on this too: The research found that the green building community can mobilize and inspire change by connecting messaging to health outcomes for human beings. Frankly, people care about and are concerned about health.
Understanding health’s interconnectedness with outdoor and indoor environments – and educating a generation about this connection so they’re eager to create a better future – starts in the classroom. Earth Force believes that truly understanding these issues, like school sustainability and healthy buildings, are rooted in the study of science. So in response to the pandemic and as we head into the school year, we’re helping educators adapt their hands-on science lessons to work when students are at home, and we’re developing tools that help educators guide students through the process of gathering data near their homes and generalizing what they learn to other circumstances and then taking civic action to solve the problems they find.
With all of the challenges facing our communities, it is more important than ever that young people have experience advocating for what they want to people who make decisions, so we’ve developed tools young people can use to be civically engaged in a socially distanced world.
The biggest indicator of civic engagement when you’re an adult is civic engagement when you’re young. As our communities recover and we find solutions to COVID-19, by ensuring we’re accounting for new ways of learning about our spaces’ impact on our health and the power to influence decision making, we’re also ensuring the next generation will come back ready to build a healthier and more resilient future for all.