Surround yourself with trees

Did you know that being around trees makes you healthy? There’s an interesting article in Scientific American that talks about how trees help to clear the air of pollution.

Trees can capture common pollutants and toxic gases, such as:  carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and lead. A recent study established that more than 850 human lives per year are saved by trees, thanks their ability to reduce air pollution. Air pollution can cause respiratory illnesses that can often be fatal.

A Spanish study has also shown that if children are exposed to greenery in their neigbourhood and at school, they have better attention and memory skills.

Clearly, the cutting down of trees to make way for high-rise developments or subdivisions could have serious consequences for our environment and health.

Photo credit: K. Martins.

Working together

Welcome to the first English post for Read and Smile. There are two things that interest me: education and the environment. I will be posting positive news stories mainly in these areas and, because I’m an ex-teacher, will start off with a fantastic initiative in the UK.

First though, let me say that we need to think seriously about the role elderly people can play in society. In Western countries, there is a trend pushing for people over fifty years of age to live in “retirement villages”, euphemistically called “lifestyle communities”. Baby Boomers (or those born between 1946-1964) are being pushed out of the workforce.

This is age discrimination based on thinking that older people are out-of-date in their knowledge and skills. I’ve always thought that a cohesive society is one where all generations work together and benefit from their specific skills. This is why it’s so important for grandparents to be in the lives of their grandchildren.

Downshall primary school in Ilford, UK is bringing elderly people into the classroom three times a week. They become involved in all sorts of classroom activities and the major benefit I see is that young children gain a positive attitude towards older people.

You can read about the initiative here. What similar initiatives do you know about? Tell us about initiatives that help elderly people feel less isolated and transfer their knowledge and skills to younger generations.