For immediate release: May 11, 2007

GALVESTON, Texas - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honored Mothers for Clean Air and UTMB's Ozone Theater with a national Clean Air Excellence Award in a ceremony held in Washington, D.C., on May 9. The interactive, theater-based game teaches children about the importance of clean air and explains how our actions can prevent air pollution.

As part of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the Theater Outreach and Education program created Ozone Theater with Mothers for Clean Air, a nonprofit organization concerned with air pollution in the Houston-Galveston area and its effects on children's health. The Theater Outreach and Education program promotes theater as a tool for education and uses theater to raise awareness of health science and medical humanities issues within the community.

"Utilizing theater to teach about air pollution is a great way for kids to learn," said Cheryl L. Kaplan, director of the Theater Outreach and Education program. "These active lessons really capture their interest."

Ozone Theater includes two games designed for a classroom setting with a trained leader. In "Pesky Polluters," for children in pre-K through second grade, children learn about air pollution in their community. In "Good Ozone, Bad Ozone," for grades 3-5, students learn about the EPA's Air Quality Index and act out activities that are safe during different ozone pollution levels.

"We're thrilled that EPA has chosen to recognize Ozone Theater," said Jane Laping, executive director of Mothers for Clean Air. "So far, we've provided this free program to more than 10,000 students in the Houston area, and they really have a great time learning about our air."

The EPA's Clean Air Excellence Awards recognize programs, projects and technologies that reduce emissions of pollutants, provide a model for others to follow and result in positive, sustainable outcomes. There are five categories of awards: Clean Air Technology, Community Action, Education/Outreach, Regulatory/Policy Innovations and Transportation Efficiency Innovations. Ozone Theater is one of two winners in the Education/Outreach category.

"One should never underestimate the power of American innovation. These original ideas and cutting-edge projects embody our nation's unwavering commitment to cleaner, healthier air," said Stephen L. Johnson, EPA administrator. "Congratulations to the winners of the seventh annual Clean Air Excellence Awards."
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Public Affairs Office
301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102
Galveston, Texas 77555-0144