Get outside.

Passing time is one of summer’s only great challenges. Its fun to watch TV and sit at home for a few days, but after the first few weeks of vacation, those activities become increasingly dull. A great way to spice up the summer is tennis. Tennis is a great game, because to play a legitimate game of tennis, you can play with two or four people. Plus you can invent your own tennis type games for different numbers, and if all of your friends are out of town, you really just need a wall, a racket, and a ball.

Blackburn Park has an incredibly well equipped tennis center. The park allows for reservations of courts, and even has a store where you can buy tennis accessories. Another great thing about the Blackburn tennis center is that it hires some local teen tennis players. If you don’t feel like you are a talented player yet, the center offers junior classes and private instruction, plus you can always learn by doing.

Never really cared for tennis? What about softball? The park also has softball and baseball fields. Never one for those sports? The park has a trail, and the trail is marked, so you get to see exactly how far you have traveled. If you just want to grill or picnic, you won’t find a better place to do that either. Plus if you get stuck in the rain, the picnic area is covered, so you won’t have to get wet.

This might seem strange, but I think Blackburn is probably my favorite park to throw around a Frisbee. Maybe it’s the wide, open spaces, or the lovely picnic area, but something about this park just encourages lighthearted fun. The park ends in a small field, and then a family friendly grille. Also within short walking distance of the park are a sushi restaurant, a pub that allows families, a wing restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, and a Thai restaurant. I mention this because in my experience, having a midday picnic in the park with some friends, and then hanging out for a few hours and attending one of the restaurants for dinner has always been a good way to fill a day for me. The grille and pub also allow for you to sit outside with your dog while you eat, so you can bring your furry buddy along, too.

Between the sports, the walking, and the picnicking, I assure you that you will not be bored. Blackburn is a relaxing, yet youthful and fun place to spend a lazy summer day. A day in this park may leave you tired, but it will leave you content as well, not with one of those headaches you get from staring at the television for an extended period of time. Lying in the grass and watching the clouds move, you absorb vitamin D from the sun. Lying on the couch and watching a screen (especially at night) can release a hormone in your brain tricking your mind into thinking it is day, and keeping you from a healthy night’s sleep.

The more entertaining activity is obvious, and so is the healthier one. Save yourself the headache and the insomnia. Get outside.

Flowing Help

OnAir says: The harm we do to the environment can be felt all over the world. Several of our student bloggers, in addition to being champions for clean air, also make a point to get involved with humanitarian causes they care about. Here’s one of Shafer’s stories.

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As many of you know, the conditions in a majority of the regions in Africa are on the border of humanly possible to live in, and droughts along with long periods of famine cause a multitude of deaths in the region.

As of now, the Sahel region along with the Ouallam and Maradi regions in Niger are facing a drought crisis that has been ongoing since 2010. The weather hasn’t been favorable for the people and has caused them to not be able to grow produce of any kind. In order to counter this measure, they have to exhaust all of their savings and surplus of food. Farmers don’t have any water to nourish their produce with and now the pastoralists are watching their herds slowly die.

The main problem drastically affecting the region is that the 15 million people (including children) are starting to suffer from malnutrition. Thankfully, UNICEF has decided to step in and aid the people with transportations of water and food supplies; however, since the crisis is becoming increasingly worse, UNICEF needs more support before the threshold has passed and there won’t be anything anyone can do.

So I ask you to consider donating a few dollars to the organization whenever you can assist. I realize it is hard economic times, but I am not talking about a bunch of money. Even one dollar or a few pennies will help. If everyone were to contribute a penny, we could avert this potential crisis with ease. Just think that by donating the cost of 1 drink you could help save millions of lives.

I also implore you to keep this situation in the back of your mind and use it to remember to conserve water every little bit you can, become there is someone out there who could utilize it.

Got wheels? Bike to School Day is May 9!

It’s May, which means summer’s around the corner. In other words, the weather is no longer an excuse to leave those bikes in the garage. Wheel them out, dust them off, and participate in National Bike Month!

Organized by the League of American Bicyclists and partnered with the National Center for Safe Routes to School, National Bike Month includes National Bike to School Day, which is this Wednesday, May 9. That means that students all over the country will be biking to school, and you should totally be one of them.

If you live within pedaling distance of your school, biking can be easier than you think—just hop on and go! (But make sure you’ve got air in the tires. And a helmet. Seriously.)

And don’t be afraid to scout the neighborhood for bike buddies. Not sure where to start? Try these tips:

  • Meet up. Consider holding a meeting at school or in your community to find other teens in your area that could walk or bike with you to school.
  • Get details. Consider questions like these: Are there sidewalks? Any dangerous road crossings? How many are already walking or biking to school? Learning this type of information will help in getting you the tools you need to create safe routes.
  • Find A Route. Once you’ve got some good information, start mapping potential routes. Try getting some people together to walk or bike the route during free time. You can use map tools like Map-a-Route, Ride the City or even Google Maps to help plan your bike route.   
  • Finalize the Plan. Figure out who will be participating and when. Decide how often the routes will be used, who you’ll travel with, etc.

Register for National Bike to School Day here to stay connected to everyone else who will be biking on May 9. And remember, it’s National Bike Month for the entire month of May, so once you’re rolling, don’t stop! Try to bike to school throughout the rest of the month—see how many miles you can log!

And don’t forget to log your biking or walking in AirCreds for points and prizes!


Green Eating

We’re all looking for ways to improve air pollution, and one way to do it is by eating green.

The best way to “eat green” is to try to intake foods that have the least amount of impact on the environment.

Restaurants are notorious for being huge sources of excess waste, such as water, energy, and resources like paper and other materials for containers and packaging.

But there are tons of local, independent restaurants that buy organic and/or local food. Think of it this way: the average carrot travels around 1,800 miles to get to your dinner table, according to the Leopold Center. Imagine the amount of fuel that’s burned up along the way. Eating organic and/or locally can hugely cut down your impact on the environment.

Here’s a list of some great organic restaurants in Georgia: Best Organic Restaurants

Also, try checking out the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), an organization that certifies restaurants as “green” based on a 1 to 5 star rating. GRA also helps restaurants, manufacturers and distributors become more environmentally responsible in a convenient, cost-effective way.

If going to an organic restaurant isn’t an option, try these tips at any restaurant to make it a greener experience:

  • Drink water instead of soda. It can take up to 132 gallons of water to produce a 2-liter bottle of soda, according to the Wall Street Journal. Not to mention the amount of pollution generated to create sodas and have them shipped!
  • Bring your own reusable container for leftovers and let your waiter know that he doesn’t need to bring you a box. Think how much fresher your leftovers will be!
  • Order produce that is in season. Not sure which is which? Here’s a list of seasonal produce for the state of Georgia: Seasonal Produce
  • Order lower on the food chain. The Environmental Defense Fund has found that:
    – Chicken has a lower environmental impact than beef.
    – Seafood has a lower impact than chicken.
    – A vegetarian or vegan meal has the least impact of them all!

We know that some of these ideas sound extraordinary, but even trying just one at any restaurant you go to will make a more positive impact on the environment! These tips can also apply to your everyday eating habits. Encourage your parents to buy organic and local. And try packing a lunch and bringing it to school!

Remember to log your green eating habits on AirCreds for points and prizes!


Will You Be OnAir?

Hey Guys,

So, it’s finally here!!! If you’re asking what it is, it’s OnAir and I’m so happy that you could all join me! Oh, I’m Shelley by the way. I’m the Education Social Media intern at The Clean Air Campaign and I’ve been working on OnAir for the entire summer. I must say it was totally worth the wait and I’m excited that you can be a part of the journey ahead.

I know, I know, most of you are wondering what OnAir is and why it’s such a big deal. Well, let me tell you it’s a very big deal and you can be a part of the solution. OnAir is a blog and not just any blog. It’s a medium which allows teens to communicate thoughts, ideas, and actions on sustainability and clean air, ‘OnAir’. It’s a place where you come to share your opinions and take action. It’s like your personal online broadcast station for sustainability and the cool thing is you can share your ideas with your friends.

If it deals with air pollution, we’re talking about it. If it deals with transportation, we’re talking about that too because everything links back to the air we breathe. Cool! Right? I know. It amazes me how one thing that seems so small can relate to everything from the clothes we wear to the food we eat.

So, you’re probably asking, why should I be here? Why should I read OnAir? Well… the environment here is fun and engaging and it’s the go-to place for airing your thoughts and taking action. Plus, you can earn AirCreds. Put it this way, if you’re an empowered teen, with a voice, who wants to take action and can inspire others to take action this is the place for you. Come join me! Help spread the word! Will you be OnAir?