By Lenora Gobert, LABB Social Entrepreneur
On Sunday, September 30th Tyrone Chambers, Community Organizer with the Istrouma Health Partnership, and I traveled to the Little Rising Sun community center in Baton Rouge to attend an Earth Day Celebration. The celebration was organized and run by Ms. Stephanie Anthony, founder of the Louisiana Democracy Project which is an umbrella organization for the Pray for Our Air and Community Kids Outreach initiatives.
The Earth Day program was solely for the kids on behalf of Community Kids Outreach. As we walked in, it was controlled chaos! The 12 children and young adults were arranged around a long table, working on coloring earth-related pictures, raising their hands to answer questions, shouting out answers without first raising hands, and just being young people. They ranged in age from about 2 to 17 years. Ms. Stephanie was a dynamo. She had a basket of “goodies” and prizes which she offered whenever a question was answered correctly.
Ms. Stephanie took them on a journey of understanding… educating them and asking questions about the earth; what causes waste; how we can clean up waste; recycling; why and how the sinkhole in the community of Bayou Corne occurred; who uses oil and where it comes from; if they experienced health issues in their neighborhood; what they may have experienced with any kind of emissions/flaring/dumping from ExxonMobile and what the emissions looked, felt or smelled like.
Ms. Stephanie then introduced Tyrone to the group who talked about what the Bucket Brigade does (we were both wearing our fabulous t-shirts) and demonstrated how the bucket works to test air for toxic pollutants. One young man in particular caught my eye. He was about 12 years old, raised his hand a lot to try to answer the questions, and I couldn’t help but notice him leaning forward with interest while Tyrone was demonstrating the bucket. All hands shot up when Ms. Stephanie asked who had a cell phone and an email address (even the 2-year olds!). Tyrone then told the group about reporting to our iWitness Pollution Map if anyone saw, smelled or felt anything coming from the refinery. He explained how and why they should report to the map and I hope, because it’s all electronic and fun to do, that they will.
Ms. Stephanie made sure they all had a health survey to fill out, as well as a form to take home to get their family members to sign up and get involved in community work.
This was a great experience for me personally because I am such a strong advocate for education. Ms. Stephanie sees the importance of imparting knowledge of about our earth and how we can sustain it to the youngest of us who, in many ways, are left out of the thought-provoking discussions about what we all can do to keep the earth green. You’re never too young to learn!