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“What Can We Do Against Air Pollution?” Breathe Mongolia’s Very Own Children’s Workshop

12 · May · 2022
Breathe Mongolia's health expert Amaraa presents to elementary school kids
Photograph by: Breathe Mongolia | Amarjargal presents to school children about the importance of protecting yourself against air pollution

By Jenny Han Simon

Breathe Mongolia’s health expert Amarjargal Dagvadorj was the driving force in organizing and executing a workshop for 453 students at school N104 of Songinokhairkhan district in Ulaanbaatar

February 22, 2022 Breathe Mongolia held a workshop “What Can We Do against Air Pollution?” for second and fourth-grade students at school N104 of Songinokhairkhan district. During the workshop, 453 primary school students learned about protecting themselves from air pollution. This workshop was designed to engage some of Mongolia’s youngest population, teaching them about the dangerous effects of air pollution, how they can best protect themselves and their families, and what can be done to make a difference. 

Breathe Mongolia’s health expert Amarjargal Dagvadorj was instrumental in organizing and facilitating this workshop. “Through the workshop, children have become aware of the dangerous environment they live in and feel that wearing a mask from a young age is basically unavoidable,” said Amaraa. “Therefore, the project will motivate children to live without emitting smoke and prepare environmentally-friendly citizens.”

Kids attentively listen to a presentation on protecting yourself against air pollution
Kids attentively listen to a presentation on protecting yourself against air pollution

Mongolian culture is heavily influenced by its youth, which is the key to combating the air pollution crisis in Mongolia amongst other things. Aubrey Mendard’s book Young Mongols points out that the average age in Mongolia is 27.5 years old. Compare this with a national average of 38 years old for the United States, 42 for South Korea, 37 for China, and 39 for Russia. Additionally, 65% of the Mongolian population is under 34 years old (Young Mongols, pg. 295). If the current demographic of Mongolia looks like this, then the majority of health and environmental policies must be created to address their needs.

Children are also one of the most vulnerable populations to the hazardous health effects of air pollution. During the winter, children face getting penumonia, the risk of which happens to be heavily tied to the use of burning solid fuels, like coal. Furthermore, air pollution has been linked to asthma, mental health conditions, absence and poor performance in school, and more. An alarming statistic from the National Statistics of Office Mongolia showed 81 stillborns per million births were recorded in 2018—a 58% increase from its recorded value in 2014. This number could continue to climb the longer Mongolian childrens’ exposure to air pollution continues.

Air pollution is a complex issue that confuses even many adults, but creating a better environment for the youth and future generations means making sure they know how to best navigate their environment. “The children may not understand everything in the workshop,” Amaraa said, “but they may feel the need to think about air pollution. I am sure that this has also motivated primary school teachers to talk about air pollution in a more accessible way. BM has also been encouraged to organize such workshops, and the experience facilitates future implementation of the workshops in other schools.” 

After the educational workshop, Breathe Mongolia also hosted a drawing competition for the students based on their understanding of the material presented to them. After receiving over 150 drawings, the Breathe Mongolia team chose six winners, whose drawings best demonstrated a scientific understanding of the effects of air pollution on human health and a drive for change. Winners were awarded children’s entertainment center gift cards. The organization of this event and the prize for the drawing contest winners would not have been possible without the help and support of our supporters, including Save the Infant’s financial donations, Healing Sam’s mask donation, and other individuals’ generous contributions

Breathe Mongolia looks forward to hosting more events like this going forward, and we will continue to post educational materials on our website, social media channels, and via our newsletter. Follow us for important information on all things air pollution in Mongolia.

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