Nature Forward had another successful year working with the Long Branch community to clean up their watershed! We partnered with CHEER, Defensores de la Cuenca and 18 high school students on a yearlong litter reduction project called “Don’t Pollute.” This CBT Funded project empowered BIPOC youth to create and lead litter reduction projects in the Long Branch community in Silver Spring, MD and share these results with over 100 community members. This is the third watershed community engagement project Nature Forward has co-led in the Long Branch community (See all previous projects here).
The “Don’t Pollute” project was broken down into two parts. Part one had 8 dialogue/ training sessions where the main project organizations Nature Forward, CHEER, Defensores de la Cuenca, and Friends of Sligo Creek, plus additional invited organizations such as Anacostia Riverkeeper, Montgomery Department of Environmental Protection, and Montgomery Parks provided trainings, tools, resources, and information to the students about their programs and how they can have access to these as the students conducted their own action projects.
Part two of the “Don’t Pollute” project included providing 8 mentoring sessions as the students created and worked on their action projects. CHEER assisted and walked the students through the formation, creation, and implementation of their action projects by using the Youth Participatory Action Project (YPAR), a transformative youth development tool that engages young people in researching issues in their community.
The 18 high school students created and led the following actions as part of their project:
- Created and conducted two community surveys–one about plastic bag use and the other one about litter in their local Long Branch stream. Click here to see the survey results.
- Completed two community litter pick-ups around their local Long Branch community center which took place on 7/22/23 and 8/26/23 and one invasive plant removal activity. The students collected a total of 29 trash bags & 14 recycling bags, one canopy, one half scooter, 2 shopping carts and one sofa chair.
- Distributed 450 reusable bags and 108 reusable aluminum water bottles to reduce the use of plastics in the community.
Don’t Pollute Survey Results
The students have learned about their own potential as researchers while making a difference in their community and their local environment. They now have the tools and partnerships they need to take their projects to the next levels. The students presented their final findings to the Long Branch community and project partners on September 11, 2023 (Check out the event photos here) . One of our project partners, Anacostia Riverkeeper, is already interested in continuing to work with the students and the community later this year and into 2024.
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