During the week of June 24, Kawartha Lakes Environmental Advisory Committee recognized students across the municipality for their exemplary efforts toward enhancing and protecting the environment in the current school year (2018 to 2019). A total of three awards were presented to students ranging from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 7.
The first Environmental Youth Hero award was presented to Alexis Benns, a Grade 7 student at Central Senior Public School, who was nominated for her efforts in raising awareness on climate change by organizing community marches. Alexis felt compelled to take action on her own because of her recent studies of the impacts that climate change is having on the environment. On March 15 and May 3, Ms. Benns was able to organize two marches that involved not only students from multiple schools within the area, but members of the community as well.
“I was motivated by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, a well-known Swedish activist who calls out world leaders on their inaction towards climate change,” stated Alexis Benns. “I felt compelled to take action on my own.”
The second Youth Hero was awarded to the JK/SK classes of Dunsford District Elementary School for their involvement as leaders in the Bee School application and project launch. Their studies this year included pollinator ecology, reproduction and habitat, taking a close look at what bees eat and simple ways they could get involved. The students are helping install a pollinator garden at the front of the school by planting native annuals and perennials determined by which plants attract and feed pollinators best. Not only will this garden exist as an important environmental resource for pollinators, it will also serve as an outdoor classroom for all students within the school.
“The Kindergartens care about the environment and have proven that it doesn’t matter how young they are, that they can make an important impact on the future,” stated Christine Szabados, the individual who nominated the class for the award.
The last award was also presented to three additional students from Dunsford District, Leah Connor, Jake Connor and Mattie Ariza, for their environmental project titled “Operation Garbage Pickers”. Upon taking a walk through Thursontia Park, the three students noticed the abundance of litter throughout the park grounds, ditches and pathways and decided to take a proactive approach to cleaning it up. With the assistance from a parent, the group used a golf cart to ride around the park to cover more ground quickly and successfully helped clean up the area.
“While taking a neighborhood dog for a walk, we noticed that there was a lot of garbage and we wanted to clean it up because we care about the environment and of course, what our neighbourhood looks like,” stated Leah Connor.
Councillor Richardson, Council Environment Champion, along with Pat Warren, Chair of the Environmental Committee, paid a special visit to each classroom to present the students with their Youth Hero certificates. The students were also winners of a free pizza party (courtesy of Boston Pizza) and native-species tree to be planted on their school’s property (courtesy of Pineneedle Farms).
“Council has made working towards a healthier environment a priority and a focus moving forward with our new Healthy Environment Plan,” stated Councillor Richardson. “Our youth heroes are the ones that will help implement in the years to come. I am proud to be able to recognize these students for their achievements and thank them on behalf of Council for helping make Kawartha Lakes a healthier and more vibrant place to live.”
“I am so proud of all our Youth Environmental Heroes. From marching for climate change, to starting a Bee School and doing a major garbage clean-up, our heroes are our environmental leaders,” stated Pat Warren. “Their actions show us how important our environment is today and in the future. Well done!”
The City thanks Youth Hero sponsors: Boston Pizza and Pineneedle Farms.