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6 April 2010 | Printer friendly

Air quality educational project for primary schools

Country: Belgium

Project: Educational project for primary school

Organisation: The Flemish Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, the Flemish Agency for Care and Health, and Flemish Local Health Networks

Representative: Sara Reekmans

Email: sreekmans@limburg.be

Winner of the Air Quality category of 2nd CEHAPE awards for good practice in environment and health.

Keeping "refreshingly cool" in the classroom

For several years, environmental health workers from the Flemish Local Health Networks had been receiving questions from teachers about how to improve air quality in the classroom. Meanwhile, evidence was emerging that ventilation in schools was often poor. The Flemish Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and the Flemish Agency for Care and Health decided that it was time to act. Together with the Flemish Local Health Networks, they initiated a project called Lekker Fris, or "refreshingly cool" (www.lekkerfris.be).

The first step was to distribute a poster and a flyer about the project to every primary school in Flanders, the Flemish speaking part of Belgium. It provided five simple steps to improving indoor air quality. After a collaborative process to develop the project and its materials, teachers in 15 primary schools helped in the pilot testing of the project guide and educational materials. Once refined, these materials were made widely available.

Since January 2008, schools have been able to join the project. Teachers receive materials for 3-4 lessons, including crosswords, a song, drawings, a game, and a play, which they say are fun and easy to use. The school borrows a hand-held CO2 indicator, which children can understand and learn to use themselves. When the air is bad and urgent action is needed, a red light shows; a yellow light indicates poor air quality in the classroom, and a green light indicates that all is well. The project organisers found that once a few schools had started activities, media coverage in newspapers and on children‘s television attracted other schools to join.

Evidence that the project is a success comes from several sources. First, a recent evaluation by the Flanders government included a small number of primary schools that are taking part in the project. The government report findings suggested that indoor air quality in these schools had improved. At the same time, the teachers have rated the project highly. They say that the children benefit from learning about the importance of ventilation as well as from fresher air in the classroom.

Following requests from secondary schools, the Flemish Institute, the Flemish Agency for Care and Health and the Local Health Networks are now working on a similar initiative for older children.


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