Kids take it upon themselves to clean up litter

DOWNEY - Over the summer, 30 select students sacrificed their summer vacation and showed up with their parents and siblings at 7 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays to serve their community and improve their environment.Students from Gauldin Elementary, East Middle School and Downey High School participated in a Kiwanis sponsored environmental club called the Kiwanis Green Team. Carol Rowland, of Keep Downey Beautiful, and Lisa Fox, of the city's graffiti removal program, provided training and support as the kids spanned across the city and reported illegally-dumped items and abandoned shopping carts. Students also did litter clean-ups, removed graffiti, and cleaned tree wells. Several students decided to team up with their families on weekdays and conducted cigarette butt clean ups at all 11 Downey parks to promote awareness about cigarette litter. Participants of the Kiwanis Green Team also met Thursdays at Independence Park where they took part in environmental workshops about protecting the environment and gave a report to Rowland. The Los Angeles County Sanitation Department staff provided the students with personal tours to the Puente Hills Landfill, Bixby Marshland, Joint Water Pollution Control Plant and Watershed Exhibit at the Long Beach Aquarium. Thanks to Carol Rowland, the City of Downey, and the DUSD grounds crew, students were able to plant a xeriscape garden along a 1/2 block section facing Gauldin Elementary School. Students also painted a mural titled, "the future is in our hands," next to the teachers parking lot at Gauldin Elementary. Students also attended several Downey City Council Meetings where they gave a report to the council of what issues needed more attention in their community and attended a town hall meeting where they were able to engage their state representatives, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Senator Alan Lowenthal, and Assemblyman Ricardo Lara. All three representatives were inspired and stayed a while after the meeting, speaking with the kids about environmental issues in our state. Students also attended a Downey Green Task Force meeting where they gave a report about their work and voiced their concerns about environmental topics important to them. Topics such as air quality, plastic bags, oil and sewage, bike lanes, and cigarette litter in parks were discussed. Finally, the students were honored at the Downey Unified School District Board Meeting on the second day of National Character Counts Week! Words cannot express how proud I am of these kids; they made such an impact on the city of Downey and improved their communities. They gave people hope that the future is bright and that our communities can stay beautiful if we just do our part in protecting our environment. -Alex Gaytan, Kiwanis Green Team

********** Published: October 20, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 27