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Our club walked along the Bayou Gulch trail, picking up any trash we saw. We filled up six bags each time we went during our three trips. We picked up many sharp objects that could have been harmful to the wildlife living in that area. This was a non-profit activity we choose to do for the environment and community.
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In cooperation with members of the Washington D.C.-area chapter of the University of California, Berkeley Alumni Association, several of us participated in the annual "Hands On DC" volunteer day. Hands On DC is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that conducts an annual citywide work-a-thon to improve the physical condition of Washington, D.C. public schools, raises funds to support local college scholarship programs and encourages greater community involvement in the public schools. A couple Berkely alumni registered us for the event and coordinated our particiation. We met in the morning at Springarn High School in Southeast D.C. and then were assigned to Bunker Hill Elementary School in Northeast D.C. A few participants collected pledges for their work or made personal donations to Hands On DC. Most of us spent the day repainting a room in the school. We listened to the radio and got acquainted with one another, as none of us had met before. The paint colors were Shell White, Desert Sunset and Blue Brisk, and the room looked so much brighter and happier when we finished. Bunker Hill has enrollment of about 250, so we may have brightened the days of 250 students! Some members of our group helped clean out a basement storage area at the school, lugging heavy equipment up stairs and outside. Once the painting was done, we made sure to clean up the mess we'd made, and we left a note on the blackboard for the Bunker Hill staff and students. Then, we gave ourselves a round of applause and snapped a few pictures of our group.
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Plainfield Youth in Action was a proud participant in the Earth Day Groceries Project, one of the oldest and largest educational projects. This is a cost-free environmental awareness project in which students from local schools decorate paper grocery bags with environmental messages for Earth Day. With the help of students from six of our elementary schools, we were able to decorate over 2500 bags for four local area stores! That translates into a successful public awareness campaign that raised consciousness about environmental issues. It was also a great opportunity for the students to get more involved while also learning about current environmental issues. Not to mention the art work was fantastic!
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Seeds of Hope project was an Earth Day celebration in which youth made starter pots out of recycled paper and then planted seeds to take home and grow. These "Seeds of Hope" were also planted around local area parks for beatification and nature appreciation purposes as well. Seeds were donated by the America the Beautiful Fund.
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The children and parents took a tour of the recycling facility. They were able to view almost the entire facility from 2nd story glass windows, with active sorting of the materials going on below. It is a sorting facility, so they don't actually recycle anything on-site, other than recycling green waste into compost. They sort the material for recycling, package it, and ship it off to various plants for re-manufacturing. The manager gave a basic overview of what they do, what we were seeing in the facility, and the process of how the materials are sorted. He also discussed exactly which materials they handle. Questions and answers were going on throughout. They had a hands-on table with examples of different materials that can be recycled, and different things they can be made into (old concrete being crushed into ground cover material, soda bottles made into Trex decking material, etc.). Each child took home a handout of all the different materials that can go into recycle bins, and a pencil.
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We go around our entire school every other Tuesday and pick up all of the recycling paper in every class, office and the copy room. We tell the teachers to get all the kids to recycle paper, so if they get a paper back then they recycle it. After picking up all of the recycling, we take it to the big blue bin in the back of the school and make sure that it is all in there. While doing our recycling we take down out dated posters and recycle them too. We always do this with a happy and positive attitude not towards our own club members, but towards our entire staff and all students at Sagewood Middle School.
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For Valentines Day we asked Sagewood's PRIDE classes to make hand-made Valentines for kids at the children's hospital. They did, and so we went through them for editing purposes, and we put a lollipop in each one. We then delivered them to the hospital.
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This year at Sagewood we had an Earth Day Concert. We hired a school band to play and we collected money at the entrance. We sent the money to the World Wildlife Fund.
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We participated in the Invisible Children's (www.invisiblechildren.com) Displace Me (www.displaceme.com) event in Washington D.C. on the National Mall to raise awareness of the 21-year war in northern Uganda and the poor conditions of the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps. We brought water and saltine crackers, which were later rationed to us, to simulate the experience of those living in the IDP camps. We made shelter out of cardboard and slept in sleeping bags on the Mall all night. We learned that only 20 percent of northern Ugandan schools remain open, that the majority of deaths are a result of the poor living conditions at the camps and that there is so little media coverage of what is going on that many Ugandans who live just 200 miles away often go their entire lives never hearing about the situation in northern Uganda. Fifteen cities across the U.S. held the Displace Me demonstrations, which will hopefully encourage the current administration to become involved.
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Amy Vaerewyck, Roots & Shoots Program Assistant, and Chase Pickering, Roots & Shoots Youth Leadership Fellow, visited the Roots & Shoots group at Forestville Elementary School in Great Falls, Virginia. We opened with brief R&S refresher. Then, Chase told Antarctica stories, relating his experiences to the problem of climate change. We brainstormed with the students what they can do to stop climate change and made a list on the blackboard. Then, we led them in making energy-saver light switch plate covers. Here's how we did it: 1. Trace the shape onto contact paper, using a cut-out template. 2. Cut out shape. 3. Decorate switch-plate cover with energy-saving slogans, stickers. We encouraged the kids to take the switch plate covers home and ask their parents if they could stick them to a light switch to remind family members to turn off the lights. The switch plate covers were a hit, and it was a really simple project and concrete concept that the kids could grab onto. We learned that the fourth-graders at Forestville know a LOT about global warming!

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