Last Thursday I participated in a cleanup of South Laulau Beach led by 43 second graders from San Vicente Elementary. The kids had some help from their teachers, Miss Diana and Miss Kathy, as well as some of their parents.
Miss Kathy and Miss Diana participated in the MINA teacher education camp last summer. As part of the camp, they each had to come up with two lesson plans and one field trip plan to teach their kids about coral reefs.
This cleanup was one of the field trips.
In the classroom the kids learned about the effects that humans can have on coral reefs, such as driving on the beach, causing erosion, and leaving trash on the beach.
After learning how turtles and other sea life can mistake bits of plastic for food and choke on them, the kids decided that they wanted to do a beach cleanup on the beach near their school.
Laulau Beach is not far from the school, so the teachers had the students walk. It took about 30-40 minutes to get down. The kids picked up trash off the road along the way.
The streets of Saipan are much cleaner than they were just two years ago, even so, I'm always amazed at the amount of garbage that we find. A can here and a bottle there really adds up when you collect them and put them all in one place.
At the start of our short hike down to the beach we split the 43 students and the dozen chaperones into about 10 groups. Each of the groups managed to fill a garbage bag just on the walk down. A few groups filled two.
I love the enthusiasm that kids show when they come to Beautify CNMI events. You would think that picking up other people's garbage was the greatest thing in the world. By the time we got down to the beach some of the kids were already exclaiming to anyone within shouting distance, "This is the best field trip EVER!!!"
I'd like to think I had something to do with it, but something tells me my dog, Oreo, was the reason.
I really think that the cleanups we do with kids are the most important ones. This is our island and if we don't take care of it, no one else is going to do it for us. For some reason, children seem more willing to accept that idea than adults.
I have a lot of hope that these kids remember that. If they keep hearing the messages "Don't Litter" and "Walk it, Don't Drive it" then maybe by the time these kids have kids of their own, packing up their trash after a picnic will come as naturally as knocking out an "Our Father" during church.
Anyway, Miss Diana told me that the kids were wiped out after the three hour field trip.
They weren't the only ones.
Beautify CNMI is out of trash bags. We've got about 100 left. I'll be making the announcement that we need more in the next couple of days.
I appreciate anyone who wants to purchase and drop off bags at the RC&D office, but what I really want is for someone to buy us a boatload of those sturdy blue bags that are made from recycled plastic. The last time we bought them they were $40 for a box of 200, but that was last year. The price may have gone up.