Asthma Free School Zone Wins
NYS Health Foundation Award

For Immediate Release                                  

January 24, 2007                                            


NYSHealth Honors Real World Foundation/Asthma Free School Zone

New York [Jan. 24, 2007] The New York State Health Foundation (NYS Health) selected the NYC-based Real World Foundation's Asthma Free School Zone (AFSZ) program to receive funding in this first year of the Foundation's existence. A special awards ceremony and reception was held January 24, 2007 in Rockefeller Center's Rainbow Room to honor the 23 award-winning organizations that were selected from a field of over 600 proposals.


Since 2002, the Asthma Free School Zone has been dedicated to protecting the health of children by helping communities improve the environment of their schools and surrounding neighborhoods. The aim is for safe, healthy school zones that result in better air quality and, in turn, to less asthma-related illness and absenteeism. The AFSZ Idle-Free School Zones initiative will target environmental factors linked to asthma by focusing on control of engine idling in school zones. 

Schools play an important role in the health and well-being of children. This role includes providing children with the safest, healthiest learning environment possible; and good air quality is its #1 determinant. Unnecessary and illegal idling by school buses and all other vehicles is a major cause of asthma symptoms in children (and respiratory and cardiac symptoms in adults). Trainings, developed through this pilot project, will provide 50-70 school crossing guards with the essential education, information, materials and role-playing experience that is critical to their work as overseers of children traveling to and from school, and stewards of school environments. Backed by no-idling AFSZ street signs, guards will join teams of parents, teachers and community members who will work together to reduce tailpipe emissions in their neighborhoods.


"Until the time when children can protect themselves from environmental health risks, it is the job of all adults to look out for their interests. The AFSZ trains citizens about the link between children's health and environment.," said Rebecca Kalin, AFSZ Founding Director. "We aim to raise public awareness about the importance of protecting our most vulnerable citizens from environmental risks. The goal here is for idling to take on the social capital of pooper scooping. How is that law enforced?  Through the grassroot efforts of concerned citizens."


The proposed Idle-Free School Zones educational initiative will be a new component of the successful AFSZ core program that is now implemented in 30 elementary schools throughout NYC. The AFSZ program is guided by three principles: 1) environment is linked to health, which is linked to school success and work productivity, (2) prevention is always preferable to management and/or remediation, and 3) education is the key to all behavioral change from within. To this end, the AFSZ designates school zones with no-idling signage, and provides environmental health education and advocacy training for schools and community members.


In 2005, the Asthma Free School Zone won two excellence awards from the US EPA. In 2004, efforts by the Program Director led to the NYS Attorney GeneralÕs successful lawsuit against rampant idling by New York City's privately owned school bus fleets. The AFSZ is a project of Real World Foundation, Inc. (RWF), a NYS 501C3, which recently won three-year program expansion funding through the NYC Department of Transportation.


NYSHealth was established by the State of New York with charitable funds from the privatization of Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield. For more information, about NYSHealth visit For more information about the Asthma Free School Zone, visit