Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) students recently transformed a parking space in Center City Philadelphia into a temporary green space and exhibit for PARK(ing) Day Philadelphia, an annual event that raises awareness of the environment, health and the need for green space in urban areas.
Students from PhilaU’s Student Organization for Sustainable Action and U.S. Green Building Council, as well as TJU, led the PhilaU effort. The group’s theme, “A Life in the Day of a Cigarette,” incorporated facets of each school’s academic programs—human health and the environment.
“It was a perfect opportunity to talk about the effects of smoking on human health while spreading awareness about the effects of cigarette butts on the environment,” said Maram Moushmoush ’17, a PhilaU graduate student in sustainable design.
Working with faculty, campus facilities and PhilaU’s sustainability committee, the students planned and developed a green space on 12th Street across from the Reading Terminal Market. A PhilaU facilities team loaned six trees intended for campus landscaping and helped construct the booth based on the group’s designs.
“PARK(ing) Day not only allowed these students to highlight an issue that was important to them but also gave them the opportunity to lead the project, which is what many of them will be doing in their professional life,” said Kimberlee Douglas, director of PhilaU’s landscape architecture program.
At the Sept. 16 event, PhilaU students distributed flyers and discussed the pollution risks of cigarette butts, as well as invited passersby to sign a petition asking Philadelphia City Council to install cigarette butt recycling bins throughout the city. Other PhilaU participants included architecture undergraduate students Ashley Cummins ’18 and Kyle Tasik ’19 and sustainable design graduate students Patrick Isaac ’17, Jaspreet Bhullar ’18, Shane Clark ’18 and Chelsey Smith ’18.
In addition, two TJU pharmacy students offered free blood pressure screenings, and a medical student and occupational therapy student discussed the risks of smoking and provided smoking cessation tips.
Laurie Yuhnke, TJU’s director of housing and residence life who connected their students with the PhilaU group, said the event allowed students to practice their clinical skills. “The students felt like they really helped people and maybe even convinced a person to quit smoking,” she said.