Taking the Science of Climate Change to the Streets
January 17, 2013
Kaiser Permanente forges partnership with Alliance for Climate Education to increase youth awareness of the impacts of climate change
When trying to tackle a large-scale environmental issue that has potentially global impacts on the health and vitality of people, communities and the planet, sometimes the most effective place to start is a simple one — educate and inspire young people.
That is the premise behind an organization known as Alliance for Climate Education, a national non-profit based in Oakland, Calif., whose mission is to educate high school students on the science behind climate change and inspire them to take action to curb global warming. Kaiser Permanente recently awarded a $75,000 grant to ACE to support its work in “building a generational shift” to help solve climate change.
“We see that young people have the desire, the energy and the optimism to make a difference in addressing climate change,” explains Sarah Shanley Hope, executive director for ACE. “This is a global challenge that will directly affect their communities and our future. Bringing out their enthusiasm and potential leadership is critical to making solutions happen.”
ACE delivers two core offerings as part of its educational presentation: the award-winning ACE assembly that blends storytelling, cutting-edge animation, music and video; and the Student Action Program that engages students in small actions they can take to help the environment, scaling up to larger carbon-cutting projects that students can take on at school and in their communities.
The program echoes a similar model of student engagement that Kaiser Permanente uses in its Educational Theatre Program to educate children and youth about a variety of health and wellness topics.
“Our partnership with ACE is a natural fit and a next logical step in our efforts to improve ecological health,” says Joe Bialowitz, the environmental manager for Kaiser Permanente who initiated the partnership. “Both ACE and Kaiser Permanente see climate change as a major health concern for our communities. We also understand that school communities are a perfect locus for engaging students and teachers alike in building awareness and action around these issues.”
Kaiser Permanente is working to address energy and climate issues through a variety of environmental stewardship efforts. Last year, the organization rolled out an aggressive strategy to reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020. The strategy includes plans to expand upon the organization’s current on-site solar and fuel-cell energy initiatives while also targeting energy conservation measures.
The new partnership with ACE evolved out of Kaiser Permanente’s efforts to support organizations and initiatives advocating for active transportation, complete streets, safe environments for physical activity and walking. Ongoing initiatives inside and outside of the organization include work underway with Safe Routes to School National Partnership to encourage physical activity in and around schools and an employee engagement campaign known as Tread Lightly that encourages the Kaiser Permanente workforce to reduce their use of fossil fuels and engage in more active forms of transportation.
“We are thrilled to be working alongside Kaiser Permanente,” says Hope. “Their commitment to helping people thrive and their ability to bring tremendous insights about healthy communities and the health impacts of climate change that students can relate to at a human level are a perfect fit with our mission.”