Teens launch social media campaign Urging Mayor Adams for Greener Schools
In a bold move for safer, healthier classrooms, teens are taking to social media with hashtags like #MayorAdamsFixMySchool and #GreenHealthySchools, urging Mayor Adams to expedite safety upgrades across the city.
Spearheaded by the student-led environmental coalition TREEage, the campaign aims to draw attention to the urgent need for greener and more climate-friendly educational spaces.
"With everyone's help, we can really get the Mayor's attention," said Azucena ‘ZuZu’ Qadeer, member of TREEage. Through engaging videos on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, she and others in the TREEage coalition are encouraging peer students across the city to grade their school on how environmentally friendly and healthy it is.
“Our schools have been in disrepair for decades they need to be electrified and there are goals that are very achievable in NYC,” said Qadeer
Qadeer, a senior at Beacon High School, shared her first-hand experience, highlighting air quality issues stemming from a nearby taxi hub.
“Those taxi cab repair shops use fumes that end up drifting into Beacon’s air - the basement specifically and the fumes are so bad that oftentimes they cause nausea, dizziness and in worst cases vomiting and fainting,” said Qadeer.
“Beacon’s basement was actually evacuated 18 times last year, which is once every two weeks,” she continued.
Responding to concerns at Beacon, the Department of Education said it is aware and takes these concerns seriously. A spokesperson said, “There have been no air quality issues at the school since the start of the school year. Through consistent and ongoing communication and action with SCA, NYCEM, TLC, DEP, DOB and DOHMH we’ve taken steps within the school to ensure clean air is circulating throughout the whole building, including pursuing additional remediation recommendations from UFT, and are continuing to perform regular air quality testing.”
TREEage co-executive director Kathryn Gioiosa commended Mayor Adams for investing in 100 schools for upgrades but emphasized that this represents only 5% of all school buildings.
“We want the city to work towards investing in 500 schools by 2030 to electrify and upgrade them,” said Gioiosa. She said the coalition also wants a net-zero school district by 2040.
In response, the department of education said, “New York City Public Schools is proud to be fully and continuously committed to sustainability in our schools and in our communities. Ensuring our young people are empowered to advance sustainability and climate justice is a priority for NYCPS, demonstrated by programs like our newly launched Climate Action Days and our Youth Leadership Council.”
Qadeer stressed the importance of direct communication with Mayor Adams, emphasizing the impact on students' education and future.
“This is where we’re spending our time, this is our education, our future - and it really really matters,” said Qadeer.