The Exhibition and Round Table Discussion event of Clean Air Neighborhood was successfully held in Tuen Mun on 22 May. With the great support from The Church of Christ in China Tam Lee Lai Fun Memorial Secondary School, the hybrid event provided a platform connecting the local and professional exchanging ideas and coming together across generations to find solutions beating air pollution.
The small exhibition showcased the air pollution study conducted by the student group and it revealed the health threats of poor air quality in Tuen Mun neighborhood. The local air data were collected by the cooperation of elderly volunteers and high school students. They set up NO2 diffusion tubes at different locations of Tuen Mun for a couple of weeks and the data was further analyzed and transformed into a visual context for the public easily to understand the health effects of air pollution.
San Hui Market Bus Stop is one of the air pollution hotspots with the highest NO2 concentration where thousands of local residents waiting for buses every day. A year ago, the 800-meter noise barriers and enclosures had been retrofitted along the highway, Tuen Mun Road, with heavy traffic all the time. The barrier has mitigated the noise impact of the highway on neighboring residents, but it looks like a tunnel trapping the vehicle emission while a large bus stop station is located right there. Passengers are suffering from the horrible air quality at the roadside day and night.
More about the roadside pollution in Tuen Mun >>> CLICK HERE
Students also organized a walking tour bringing our guests a real sense of being exposed to highly polluted air at several monitoring locations. Almost everyone got shocked by the bus stop waiting for the environment of San Hui Market as it was stuffy and terrible. The tour experience gave them tangible evidence of how dirty air seriously causing environmental damage and harming people’s health.
We also invited several experts from different sectors to lead a discussion panel covering a wide variety of topics related to air pollution and health. Dozens of students and local residents joined the discussion and were eager to share their views and experience about a healthy street environment.
Fung, Ho and Chan are core student participants who devoted themselves to the Clean Air Neighborhood program. For them, the most challenging attempt was asking questions and taking surveys to a total stranger on the street, but it was also a good opportunity to develop their sense of confidence in their abilities and accomplishments. They received lots of positive feedback from guests about their performance on leading the tour and explaining the air data.
Teacher Lau Koon-heng acknowledges the Clean Air Neighborhood program as it enables students to develop their soft skills. Young people make use of their communication and coordination skills when working with the community. “They can acquire the first-hand experience to deal with social issues,” Lau emphasis the core elements of the program, “Based on data collection and analysis, observation and ground survey, students can have a full picture identify the real need of the community.”
Paul Chan, CEO of Walk in Hong Kong, provided story-telling training to student participants for the tour design. Air pollution is just one of the social issues linking schools and communities. Young people are encouraged to talk about it with other people, a way of stepping outside their own comfort zone. He continued to explain, “Students are encouraged to explore and observe the community in their own way. Storytelling is an engaging and dynamic way to lobby our audience. It is also a critical lifetime skill giving our next generations the need to succeed.”
Michelle Wong, team leader at HKUST’s air pollution app PRAISE-HK, was happy to have a platform getting close to students, retired community and tech-savvy in Tuen Mun. The program set up a channel for different sectors in our society to exchange ideas about air pollution issues. She was thrilled to witness the growth of student participants, “the program has adopted problem-based learning method to motivate students exploring the social issue. Their identity has changed into a young expert finding solutions to air pollution. Their active participation is encouraging.”
Patrick, CEO of CAN, appreciated the support from the school, the community and the experts to the Clean Air Neighborhood program. He added, “CAN has been working hard to increase public awareness about the air pollution issue. The program illustrated a structured framework for the possibility of social change with the partnership of the young generation and their communities. It was a good start and would go further to be applied in other districts.”