Earth Island News
KIDS for the BAY
In November, KIDS for the BAY (KftB) celebrated 10 years of providing
meaningful and effective environmental education to East San Francisco
Bay children. Based in Berkeley, California, KftB collaborates with
teachers to stimulate children to learn about their environment and
help them develop their own environmental action projects to improve
long-term community health.
The 10-year anniversary celebration took place at John Muir School in Berkeley. The school auditorium was filled with KftB children, teachers, parents and supporters looking back on 10 years of dedication to environmental education through action. The children's creative and inspiring projects were displayed throughout the room, and the children staffed tables to teach the guests about their work on behalf of their local environment.
Damonique Tupuola, now a junior at Richmond High School, participated in a KftB program when she was in third grade at Dover Elementary School. She attended the anniversary celebration to speak about her KftB experience and what it meant to her: "Going to the creek with Mandi, Ms. Auxter, and my class really meant a lot to me, because I love my environment and I want it to look and be the best it can. I also remember that we planted trees and wildflowers beside the creek and raised tiny tree frogs in our classroom to put back in their creek home. After we accomplished our goals we were so proud of ourselves. That's why when I graduate from college I will still be doing projects that help our community."
KftB has worked with 21,000 children and 750 teachers throughout the East Bay. Children in KftB programs learn about the San Francisco Bay estuary, the need to reduce pollution, and how to prepare and cook fish from the Bay to minimize health risks. Armed with this information, students organize fish cooking demonstrations for their families and friends, and educate local people who fish the San Francisco Bay. They have repopulated creeks with frogs and planted trees and wildflowers. Students have designed posters and T-shirts to raise visibility on the issues. Their letters to local politicians have resulted in politician visits to classrooms to discuss the students' environmental concerns.
KftB also trains teachers to encourage students to show responsibility and care for their communities. Rosa Chavarria, a fourth grade teacher at Dover School in San Pablo, writes, "My sincere gratitude to KIDS for the BAY for educating my students about their environment. They are now empowered youngsters who can spread the word about environmental issues."
"KIDS for the BAY connects children to their local environment, empowers them to take action and turns them on to learning in the real world," says Executive Director and Founder Mandi Billinge.
KftB brings dynamic real-life learning programs and needed resources to low-income, urban schools. Its multicultural teachers serve as important role models to students. Its programs reach beyond students to involve entire families in educational and creek restoration efforts.
As a result of KftB programs, school principals in the East Bay have given priority to environmental and science education and have written KftB programs into their school-wide development plans. Marco Gonzales, principal of the Cesar Chavez School in Richmond says, "The KIDS for the BAY program provides our students with a purpose for academic pursuit."
Take Action: In 2003 KIDS for the BAY will work with 140 teachers and 3,500 students, and will bring environmental education to many more low-income, urban schools.
Please visit www.kidsforthebay.org for more information on how you can help.