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T.K. Stone students run 'No Idle' campaign

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Pickup lines at school can impact air quality

By Kelly Cantrall

Most people are aware of the dangers of idle hands, but four students at a local middle school are raising awareness about the risks of idle engines.

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The students at T.K. Stone Middle School are leading the charge to better the air quality in Elizabethtown with a “No Idle” campaign, which encourages parents waiting to pick up their students after school to turn their cars off, cutting off the emissions from their vehicles. Last week was “No Idle” week in the district, and the students would like to see the campaign spread through the community.

The project grew out of an extra-credit opportunity in an environmental issues class, said Susan Ryan, who has advised the eighth-graders on the project.

Student Hannah Butler learned about a program focused on air quality at an environmental summit. Butler brought the idea back to her classmates. She began to notice she could smell the fumes from the cars when she left the school building.

“That made me think that we really need to do something about this,” she said.

Hannah, Riley Eriksen, Rachel Goff and Rhianna Clemons researched the dangers of idling emissions. They found air toxins contribute to a large number of cancers, and children especially are susceptible to issues because of their smaller lungs. Drivers also can save about two gallons of gas a year through shutting their engine off, according to their presentation.

They also studied the frequency of cars idling at some of the schools. They found the majority of drivers kept their cars running while waiting for students to be dismissed.

Last week, the students stood near the pickup lines with signs requesting drivers to turn their engines off. They have farther-reaching hopes for the campaign.

“We want to get the whole district to start with, but then we hope it will go to the whole community,” Riley said.

The project started in February and the girls carried it through to the new school year, Ryan said.

“This is what we want to grow out of classes. We want to grow citizens, not just learners,” she said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at 270-505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.