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With the approach of Earth Day 2011 on April 22, Mayor Richard M. Daley today joined students at a Southwest Side charter school to promote broader awareness of one of the school’s essential goals -- fostering environmental stewardship.
“I’m proud of the environmental leadership example that Chicago has set over the years and I want to remind Chicagoans how important it is to re-commit ourselves to protecting human health and the environment,” the Mayor said in a news conference held at the Academy for Global Citizenship, a kindergarten through third grade school at 4647 W. 47th St.
At the news conference, Daley also reported on his recent trip to China and Hong Kong with a delegation of Chicago business leaders, where they began the “Chicago-China Friendship Initiative,” whose purpose is to raise the City’s profile as a center of international commerce and establish Chicago as the most “China-friendly” city in the United States.
The Academy for Global Citizenship is a charter school that has taken as part of its mission two things that Daley said are critical to promoting economic development throughout the city: cultivating international awareness and fostering environmental stewardship.
The Mayor said the most important investment the City has made over the years to support its long-term economic health is education – which includes both actively encouraging the development of charter and contract schools and ensuring there is a strong system of neighborhood schools to go along with a strong collection of charter schools.
“Students are never too young to be taught about other cultures around the world, and they’re never too young to be told that it’s everybody’s job to protect the environment,” Daley said.
He singled out for mention the school’s “Edible Schoolyard” program, which teaches students about the connection between the food they eat every day and the overall health of the community.
By maintaining a garden on the school property, the students are made aware of their connection to the land and the things that grow on it. And, it involves the students, teachers, parents and community members in taking care of the garden.
“Our vision is to give all our students the kind of global education that prepares them to be leaders in Chicago, in our nation and in the world. The Academy for Global Citizenship is helping us carry out that vision,” the Mayor said.
Daley called the recent trip to China and Hong Kong another tool to help carry out that vision.
“We were able to create a solid framework for expanding our business, educational and cultural connections with China and Hong Kong,” he said.
On the trip, the Daley signed agreements with the City of Tianjin and the City of Chongqing for continued cooperation with Chicago.
Tianjin has had an economic development office in Chicago for the past 10 years and the cooperative relationship between the two cities has grown over the years.
Chongqing has been compared to Chicago because it is an industrial gateway that opens the country to its rural heartland.
Daley said he rode the high-speed train from Beijing to Tianjin and that while the delegation was in Hong Kong, Chicago Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino met with the chairman of the MTR Corporation to talk about Chicago’s interest in establishing express rail service between O’Hare and downtown. MTR operates the Airport Express railway system between the Hong Kong’s airport and its central business district.
Daley met with, among others, the Chinese Minister of Commerce, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, the mayors of all the cities he visited and the U.S. Consul General.
The delegation toured urban planning exhibitions in Tianjin and Chongqing and a Motorola Plant in Tianjin.
Daley made presentations in four of the five cities telling about Chicago and the “Chicago-China Friendship Initiative,” and did numerous media interviews to talk about how Chicago is a great place to do business and visit.
Daley said there will be updates in the coming weeks about further results of the China trip.
“We already have a very strong relationship with China, but the economic future of Chicago depends greatly on our success in seeking opportunities in China and around the globe,” he said.
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