Our wish is to inspire our students and our community to say "So long" to plastic straws and "Hello" to no straw and/or paper or stainless steel straws, in order to save and protect sea turtles and other marine life.
The Kids for Positive Change program teaches our 4th and 5th graders about the importance of sea turtles and other marine life. Our wish is to not only engage our students in the wonders and importance of nature, but to empower them to make a positive difference for sea turtles and other marine life! Through our 4th and 5th graders, our community is learning about the negative impacts of plastic straws on sea turtles and on our own marine life right here on the shores of Lake Erie. We see our wish slowly coming true, as students have been seen telling their waiter or waitress, "Please hold the straw." Because we have all 4th and 5th grade classes involved in this service-learning campaign, we envision our entire city "plastic straw free," in the year ahead!
According to our most recent beach cleanup along the shores of Lake Erie, on Sept. 16, 2017, over 800 plastic straws where collected in just 3 hours! Many of our families attended this cleanup and are well-aware of the plastic straw dilemma. In addition, Kids for Positive Change Educator and Founder, Camille Licate, facilitated individual classroom programs about sharks, sea turtles and marine ecosystems to our 562, 4th and 5th grade students, in early September 2017. During this program, students learned how plastic straws, bags, bottles and balloons negatively impact marine life, and, more importantly, how what happens on the shores of Lake Erie can impact the Atlantic Ocean. Currently, students are working in Think Tank Teams and are researching marine species, the problems they are facing and coming up with plans of action to help the species. Some of our TTT are specifically focused on plastic pollution in our oceans, with a focus on plastic straws. We are implementing a plan of action, developed by one of our Think Tank Teams: This Plan of Action involves creating fact sheets about plastic straws and the negative impacts they have on marine life and visiting every local restaurant to "pitch" the "So Long Straw Campaign." Using raffle tickets, students will explain to restaurant owners and the city council, how patrons who opt out of a plastic straw will receive a raffle ticket. Once a week, there will be a drawing, and a patron can win a free drink, dessert or appetizer. For patrons that prefer a straw, another local organization, LEADERship Ashtabula County, has offered to donate paper straws to all local restaurants. Our "next steps" involve a meeting with the City Manager to put the plan of action in motion. Students will begin to create information sheets and flyers and practice how they will pitch the campaign to restaurant owners. We will have the students call the restaurant owners and set up a time to speak. Then, we will accompany a few students to the meetings. Our goal is to have the campaign in place, with the raffle ticket incentive, by or before January 2018, We will also film the students during the phases of this campaign and create a short video to share with our community and social media. Our goal with this video is to inspire other students to take action in their communities too!