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April 05, 2013

Schools Encourage Students to 'Grow Green'

by Faiza Elmasry

A Native American proverb says: “We don’t inherit this land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” This is the philosophy behind the Go Green Initiative; a comprehensive program teaches school children earth-friendly behaviors. The program that takes place in elementary schools throughout Manassas City, VA, represents a trend across the US to grow environmentally conscious young people.

Nine-year-old Louis Delggado learned about recycling at school, and also why recycling is important. “When you like throw stuff and not recycling it, it gives the earth more. It turns the earth dirtier.”

Go Green Initative

Louis is one of more than 7,000 elementary school students in Manassas, Virginia, taking part in the Go Green Initiative, sponsored by the city and its schools.

“All our schools recycle everything,” said Sandy Thompson, program’s coordinator. “We do single stream recycling [collecting paper, plastic and glass in one container] and in a lot of our schools we started other projects like we collect cell phones for soldiers. We collect plastic bags.”

The goal, says Mike Moon, the city’s director of public works and utilities, is raising awareness about recycling to keep Manassas clean. “That resulted in us paying for and placing in 450 recycling containers in our all school classrooms in the city. In the same location they’re learning in a classroom," he stated. "They can also recycle.”

Go Green is not just about recycling.

“There is energy conservation," explained Moon. "They are about saving and conserving both water resources and electric resources.”

Kids also learn about composting and gardening.

“Sometimes kids don’t get that exposure, not living in an agrarian or agriculture community where food comes from, where crops come from. We teach that here,” Moon explained.

Lessons beyond classroom

Sandy Thompson says the lessons these kids learn go beyond the classroom. “They bring these practices we taught them in school, they bring them home," she stated. "We now have kids starting gardens at home and doing a lot of recycling at home.”

Like 10-year-old Maria Seaburg, who planted a garden in her back yard. “I like it because it helps the environment,” she said.

And so does the composting she learned about at school. Her mother encourages her by making sure that what Maria learns at school is part of the family’s daily life.

And that’s the idea, Moon said. “If you can teach kids good recycling habits at a young age, those would be the habits they have and perform for a life time.”
 
With the Go Green Initiative, these kids are developing the habits they hope will save the earth.