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A People’s Convening: Rally for Clean Air #CleanRide4Kids at the NGA 2018 Summer Meeting

Aug 6, 2018

Last month, more than 125 parents, children, activists, and supporters of the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign rallied and marched at the National Governors Association summer meeting in Santa Fe, calling on governors to prioritize children’s health by investing Volkswagen settlement funds in electric school buses.

This was a major milestone for our efforts to reduce air pollution by electrifying school buses. Our partners in Juntos: Our Air, Our Water; Conservation Voters of New Mexico; Chispa Arizona; Chispa Nevada; and Protegete came together with more than a dozen other national organizations to let governors know we must act now to help our children breathe clean air. We are seeing lawmakers across the country take notice, and we’ll keep fighting to make clean buses a reality for our families.

Take a look at highlights from the rally below, and if you haven’t already, make sure to sign the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños petition.

Herlinda Calderon, Mother Organizer and Promotora with Chispa AZ

“The saddest thing is that when I realized that dirty school buses were what were worsening my daughter’s asthma, worsening her breathing problems, people would come and ask me what people were doing to help us. No one was helping us, not until we started raising our voice.

Arizona’s Governor Ducey was able to put $38 million out of $57 million available towards retrofitting school buses. I want to tell Governor Ducey today that we’re not satisfied with that, we need more. Many more children deserve to lead healthy lives, and we need incentives for school districts to go electric. We need to completely eliminate diesel school buses from Maricopa County, from Arizona, from our communities.”

Herlinda has a daughter with asthma.

Martha Favela, Mother Organizer with Juntos: Our Air, Our Water

“I’d rather drive my three daughters to three different schools each morning than to have them ride in a diesel school bus. Even just dropping them off at school, we pass the buses idling and breathe in the diesel fumes. Children go to school to learn, not to get sick from pollution. I ask Gov. Martinez to use funds from the Volkswagen settlement to invest in electric school buses, because our families deserve to breathe clean air.”

Martha’s second daughter suffers from severe breathing problems, as does her husband, who drives diesel trucks for a living. Both have chest pains and cough through the night. Learning that other families face similar problems drove Martha to join Juntos as a volunteer and later an organizer.

Noe Orgaz, Protegete Organizer

“Our children are our most valuable asset, but pollutants like dirty diesel prevent them from developing a strong respiratory system. Children with asthma do not know why it is hard to breathe, and they should not have to worry about it. It is our responsibility to protect them.

Governors, you have the authority to ensure school districts acquire Electric School Buses that will improve our air quality. This is your opportunity to leave behind a legacy of promoting public health and protecting our children.”

Noe lives in Denver, CO with his daughter, who has been told by doctors she is at risk for developing asthma.

Alexa Aispuro, Chispa NV Promotora

“Latino communities are deeply affected by air pollution, more often living near sources of pollution and breathing unhealthy levels of dirty air. We are more likely to suffer from illnesses caused by our environment because of this. If we want this to change, we have to raise our voice and speak up. That is why I am here today to support the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, so other kids like my friend Robert can access breathable air. I urge Governor Sandoval and governors across the nation to support this campaign and invest in electric school buses.”

Alexa’s best friend Robert has suffered from asthma for years, often missing school for doctor’s appointments because of his illness. He has riden diesel buses to and from school for years.

Celerah Hewes, Mom’s Clean Air Force New Mexico

“Today I speak on behalf of over one million parents who have joined Moms Clean Air Force, because protecting our kids from dangerous air pollution is essential to their future.

We have a nationally-embarrassing, Delaware-sized cloud of methane pollution hovering over northwestern New Mexico. However, over the last eight years, our state has been running in the wrong direction — weakening oil and gas air quality requirements at a time that we need stronger standards. New Mexicans deserve better. Our children deserve better. All Americans deserve reasonable clean air protections at the state and federal level that reduce pollution, and we can start with clean buses.

We demand our elected officials consider our climate and our children.”

Celerah is a mom in Albuquerque who organizes with Moms Clean Air Force.