Written by one of Chispa’s Promotoras

As a mother, nothing is more important than the health and well-being of my child. Living in Baltimore, I have seen firsthand the impact that pollution and climate change can have on our community. When my son, who has asthma and a learning disability, started school, I worried every day about the diesel fumes he was exposed to during his commute. These fumes contributed significantly to his asthma symptoms and made the ride to school stressful and uncomfortable for him.

Concern for my son’s health led me to become an “Environmental Justice and Action Promotora” with Chispa Maryland, a program dedicated to empowering Latino communities in the fight for environmental justice. Through my work with Chispa Maryland, I learned more about the harmful effects of diesel emissions on children’s health and the environment. This knowledge fueled my passion to advocate for cleaner, safer alternatives.

Earlier this year, Baltimore received 25 electric school buses thanks to funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean School Bus Program. These buses are a game changer for our community. They are not only environmentally friendly but also significantly quieter than their diesel counterparts. For my son, this transition has made a world of difference.

The clean air around these new electric school buses has helped manage his asthma symptoms, allowing him to breathe easier and stay healthier. Additionally, the near-silence of the electric buses has created a calming environment for him, making his daily rides to and from school much more pleasant and less stressful. It’s remarkable to see how something as simple as a quieter bus ride can have such a positive impact on a child’s day.

Being a part of Chispa Maryland and advocating for the adoption of electric school buses has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I am proud to have played a role in advocating at the school district level for the adoption of electric school buses, focusing on asking the school board to apply for this crucial funding. But our work is not done. The success of these 25 electric buses is just the beginning. We need to continue pushing for more electric buses in Baltimore and across Maryland to ensure that all children can benefit from cleaner, quieter, and healthier school commutes.

It was thanks to Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) and Chispa Maryland for their support and advocacy on electric school buses. Their partnership, guidance, and resources have been invaluable in reaching this milestone. Others like me, parents and community members, have gotten involved with Chispa Maryland and helped change climate and conservation policies for the better. Your involvement can help your community, too! I encourage you to reach out to the Chispa team at Maryland LCV (rpcalvo@mdlcv.org) to learn more. 

As a mother and a community leader, I urge everyone to support the continued adoption of electric school buses. Our children deserve the best possible start to their day, and with electric school buses, we can provide them with a healthier, happier, and more peaceful journey to school.