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New Canaan student named healthy air ambassador

Published 3:58 pm, Monday, March 17, 2014
  • New Canaan resident Reed Schultz, 18, has been named the American Lung Association's Youth Healthy Air Ambassador for his "American Idle-Less" campaign, which has been supported by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed / New Canaan News Contributed
    New Canaan resident Reed Schultz, 18, has been named the American Lung Association's Youth Healthy Air Ambassador for his "American Idle-Less" campaign, which has been supported by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed

 

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New Canaan resident Reed Schultz has been named the American Lung Association's Youth Healthy Air Ambassador.

Schultz, 18, was honored for his "American Idle-Less" campaign, through which he has raised awareness about unnecessary vehicle idling that contributes to global warming and can cause serious health issues.

"We are thrilled to name Reed as the youth healthy air ambassador for 2014," Jeff Seyler, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast, said. "It is remarkable to see someone so young taking the initiative in their community and dedicating their time to help create a cleaner and healthier environment for all. Reed is an exceptional example of a volunteer and his contributions are appreciated by so many."

Upon visiting the American Lung Association's website and viewing its state of the air report, Schultz discovered that the air quality in Fairfield County and throughout Connecticut was rated "poor" or unhealthy. Spurred by these findings, he conceived of a movement to make people aware of their surrounding air quality and a simple action step that could help improve it.

Schultz started "American Idle-Less," a campaign to end idling vehicle engines, in hopes to save the environment from its harmful effects. Idling occurs when an automobile's engine continuously runs producing harmful emissions and releasing them into the air. He was intrigued by the issue of global warming after learning about its harmful effects while taking an environmental science class. He then decided he needed to find a way to help.

"I remember observing at such places as the supermarket by the deli, and even the train station, unnecessary idling," Schultz said. "Here were cars spewing out toxins that were being breathed by children and adults alike."

Schultz's began the website www.americanidleless.org to bring awareness to the driving public on the issue of idling, and decided to educate people on the importance of curbing it.

"I saw this as an opportunity for me to help educate people -- to help change behavior -- and try to make a small difference in our collective quality of life," he said.

He indicates that idling has the potential to disperse extremely harmful pollutants that are linked to a variety of serious illnesses.

"Idling produces a number of harmful toxins including nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds; all toxins that are linked to illnesses such as asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and cancer," he said.

In addition to his website, he uses a televised public service announcement to inform people of the issue and how it could not only preserve their health, but additionally save them money.

Schultz has been supported by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

For the past three fall seasons, Schultz also has facilitated the ThanksForGiving clothing drive in Fairfield County. After keeping the event local to New Canaan, Schultz decided to expand the clothing drive to the entire county. The clothing he collected was donated to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southwestern Connecticut. Schultz collected more than 2,000 pounds of clothing during the most recent drive.

On top of receiving recognition from the American Lung Association of the Northeast, Schultz was recognized at his school for the work he has done with his idling campaign, and during his sophomore year won an award for the clothing drive.

Schultz plans to continue finding ways to spread awareness about idling and its seriously harmful effects on the environment and human health. "It is such a simple act that once people see the benefits to them, to their health, and of course to the planet, they will do what is right."

Schultz will be honored at the 2014 Evening of Life & Breath Friday, April 4, at the Aria in Prospect.

& Banquet Facility.

Tickets are $175. For information, www.lung.org/associations/charters/northeast/