During the fall semester of the 2008-2009 school year, the Cottonwood Institute collaborated with Manual High School to offer the Community Adventure Program. During this class, students are empowered to coordinate a student-directed Action Project to address a local environmental issue.
Students jumped right in, rolled up their sleeves, and decided to tackle the issue of trash at their school for their Action Project. They noticed that not only was there a large amount of trash in the hallways, lunchroom, and outside courtyard, but also on surrounding streets and within the community as well. After learning that litter is often correlated with increases in violence and decreases in business success, they knew that something needing to be done!
Plan: Research, Resources, and Education
Students researched the causes and impact of litter. They also met with key community leaders to learn how they have impacted the community, what resources might be available for them, grant writing skills, and marketing and education strategies. Students researched where in the school there was the most litter and interviewed students and staff to find out their perspective on the problem. After all their research was complete, students decided they wanted to increase the amount of trash cans at their school because the current ones were overflowing. Their goal was to make the trash cans more attractive, visible, and to launch an education and awareness campaign so students would be more likely to use them.
Impact: Pickin’ It Up
Student partnered with the Whittier Neighborhood Association and wrote a grant to the Denver Foundation to purchase 10 new trash cans for the school and they won the grant! They painted the trash cans in Manual colors and placed them strategically around the school in high traffic, high litter locations. Students also created an awareness campaign highlighting litter facts, what students can do to help, and why they should care about having a clean school. This information was presented to the students body and posted around the school near the new trashcans. Students were featured in the Whittier Neighborhood Association Newsletter for their efforts.
“ I really enjoyed being in this class. It was a new experience for me and I learned something new about my neighborhood. I also got to do things that I have never tried before. Before I didn’t really care if I littered or what the effect of my littering was. Now, I don’t litter and if there is a trash can by me then I put my trash in it and not on the floor.” -Tailor Boling, 10th grader
“I think the CAP class as a whole is great. I have learned several things like that I can make a change in my community and be a positive role model. My favorite part of this class was that we got to take day trips. I also liked doing our Action Project because it will make our school and community look nice and cleaner.” – Alivia Rodriguez, 9th grader
“It feels good to be the first CAP class because we put our minds towards something and we actually succeeded in it. We not only helped ourselves, but our school, our neighbors, and many other people as well.” – Marissa Holmes, 9th grader