Asthma Free School Zone: Idle-Free NYC

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Real World Foundation d.b.a. Asthma Free School Zone
City & State:
New York City, 
New York
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement
The AFSZ works to keep kids in school by improving air quality and, in turn, reducing asthma-related illness and absenteeism. From Monday to Friday, 8 to 4, schools hold an extraordinary concentration of children with extraordinary vulnerability to pollution. Besides pushing for public policy, the AFSZ posts health-protective signage, trains school and community members about environment and health, and helps schools take steps to become safer and healthier learning places for children.

Submission Information

Impact Essay
When Rebecca Kalin brought coffee to a meeting with potential funders, it wasn’t the gesture that impressed them; it was the jackets on the cups. Ms. Kalin had created cupsleeves with our campaign logo and the logo of the potential funders. When the funders asked in amazement how it could happen, Ms. Kalin had her proposal ready. You could say that we like to make an impact. Ms. Kalin is founding director for the Asthma Free School Zone (AFSZ), a small non-profit organization that aims to reduce asthma-related absenteeism in NYC schools by improving air quality. Given that 25% of children suffer from asthma in some city neighborhoods, our efforts to reduce air pollution affect the health and safety of our most vulnerable population. Since 2001, our primary focus has been an idle-free NYC. For three years, beginning with handmade lapel pins made in Illustrator, we pushed for a one-minute vehicle idling limit in school zones. This winter, Mayor Bloomberg signed that measure into law – the first such law in the nation. In honor of World Asthma Month, we are producing our 2nd annual 5-borough public awareness campaign to raise awareness about health and environmental impacts of idling, and encourage drivers to reduce vehicle emissions by turning off at the curb. Using Illustrator, we designed Idle-Free NYC posters for public buses, with an estimated 18 million impressions for bus tails and 14 million impressions for bus cards. With Photoshop, we created bilingual posters and windshield-wiper flyers. Once a year, using Acrobat Professional, we assemble kits for 100 schools to take stop-idling action in their neighborhoods, and provide them with materials to host Stop-Idling Days at their schools. Because behavioral change is not easy, our materials have to be convincing. The caliber of the design and production convey the legitimacy of the campaign and the message. With Adobe, a bootstrap organization like ours can create high-quality, professional-looking materials at our own pace and with our own vision without having to spend time or money on outside consulting. The Idle-Free NYC campaign is a collaborative grassroots effort in a city of 8 million people. The question we ask is not, “What can you do to help us?” but “What can we do to help you?” When a partner needs to produce our literature in a different format or convey our message in another language, we can do it because we control document creation. Expanding our reach requires being able to turn these suggestions into reality. This spring 1,100,000 NYC children will have a chance for cleaner air in the school zone. Fifty thousand New Yorkers will hold Idle-Free NYC cupsleeves while sipping their morning brew. We are grateful for the ability to create our own materials to deliver a message that has such far-reaching consequences. The Idle-Free NYC campaign will continue to utilize Adobe products to make incremental improvements in the air quality of our city and the health of our communities.
Submission Category
Environmental Impact Print/Photo
Project Image
Supporting Work Files