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Environmental Group Starts Air Quality Educational Program For Teens

Sydney Roach
90.5 WESA
Students will learn more about air quality in 'Fresh Voices for Clean Air,' a program that lasts two academic school years and the summer between.

Pittsburgh’s GASP, or Group Against Smog and Pollution, is starting a new program to pair high school students in Allegheny County with peers in Birmingham, Ala. to complete projects related to air quality. The program, Fresh Voices for Clean Air, begins in March and ends in December.

Students will come up with an environmental project to research and carry out in their communities. GASP air quality educator Laura Kuster said the program is new, so they aren't sure what to expect yet. But she said several applicants have expressed interest and have experience in media, such as ‘zines, or online magazines.

“We want it to be really guided by the students’ interest, whatever kind of sparks the most interest out of the first foundational sessions," Kuster said.

Videos and social media campaigns would be easier for students to produce virtually, she said. She also said the Birmingham group, coincidentally also named GASP, specializes in documentaries, which can help provide training opportunities for students. 

Credit Sydney Roach / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
The GASP groups in Birmingham and Pittsburgh are unrelated except for the fact that both cities have had historically poor air quality.

“Ideally, we have like a mix of students who are really new to this and students who already have some skills that they can bring to the project," Kuster said.

Students and educators in the program will meet virtually every month, but will mostly communicate using the work app, Slack. 

Pittsburgh and Birmingham have historically experienced some of the worst air quality in the country. Allegheny County only recently met federal air quality standards for the first time

Students who complete the program will receive $250. Interested students can apply on GASP’s website by Feb. 19.