The annual Green Apple Day of Service, now in its fourth year, presents an opportunity for communities to make a real difference in schools, helping to make improvements with the goal of creating healthier, safer, cost-efficient and productive learning places. The sustainability projects range from infrastructure to operations, while moving schools toward meaningful cost savings over time.
Since 2012, the Green Apple Day of Service has mobilized more than 675,000 volunteers in more than 10,000 projects, taking place in 73 countries. Committed to healthy, safe and efficient learning places, these volunteers have impacted the learning environments of over seven million students.
“At the Center for Green Schools, we are proud of the dedication, passion and imagination of the committed volunteers who came together to host Green Apple Day of Service projects this year,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. “For the past four years, thousands of community leaders have participated in the Day of Service, affirming that maintaining safe, healthy and sustainable schools for our children remains a priority. The Green Apple Day of Service is more than a service learning opportunity, more than a grassroots movement, more than a nod to the importance of sustainability; it is a declaration by thousands of people that where we learn matters.”
Many schools today are facing obstacles that stand in the way of promoting health and wellness in classrooms and common spaces. Inefficient, unhealthy and risky infrastructure contributes to problems as pervasive and diverse as childhood asthma to headaches to ongoing concentration issues. The Green Apple Day of Service presents an opportunity to address many of these issues and to transform our schools into healthy, vibrant places to live, learn, work and play while teaching valuable lessons and cultivating the next generation of global sustainability leaders.
This year’s Day of Service featured a flagship event in Washington, D.C., where community members, teachers, school administrators, parents and students came together with USGBC staff to make significant improvements to the grounds of Leckie Elementary, a preK-6 school in the southwest quadrant of the city, very near to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, a 905-acre military installment for both active duty Navy and Air Force personnel where Leckie draws between 30 and 40 percent of its students.
The school, which expanded this year to include sixth grade, is utilizing modular classrooms to accommodate the additional students. Projects undertaken by Day of Service volunteers at the event included construction of 17 new planter boxes to place around the exterior of the modular addition, updating existing planter boxes and construction of an insect habitat. Students were invited to engage in an art project, illustrating what “green” means to them. Their artwork will be displayed at the 2015 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, the world’s largest green building conference, taking place Nov. 18-20 at the Washington Convention Center.
Cities and communities across the country and around the world were active in Green Apple service events: In Florida, at Wynnebrook Elementary School in West Palm Beach, students and their families participated in a campus clean up and beautification day. They added pollinator friendly plants to existing landscaping, and evaluated the site for possible future outdoor classroom opportunities.
In California, at the Leonardo da Vinci School in Sacramento, the community gathered together to seal the school’s aquaponic stations and to prepare existing garden beds for fall planting. The school also displayed work by local fine artist Milton Bowen highlighting themes of sustainability.
In Georgia, Agnes Scott College students combined the Green Apple Day with a hundred-year-old tradition known as Black Cat. During this week-long campus festival students will work with a local farm that provides farmland for refugees in Atlanta, showing how campus tradition and sustainability go hand in hand.
In India, two teenagers are leading an effort to reach more than 200 schools across the country, challenging students and teachers to form project teams and plan local events. By driving participation through social media, and collecting photos and short essays, they have already received more than 100 commitments across India.