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Students cleaning up Ottawa on Earth Day


Ottawa is looking a little cleaner after this most recent Earth Day. Several community cleanup events were underway in parks and beaches across the region, with volunteers putting trash back where it belongs in the hopes of a greener tomorrow.

An Algonquin College campus cleanup spilled out into Ryan Farm Park in the morning. A dozen students worked to comb the baseball diamond, playground and field, cleaning up litter.

"I think it's important to keep our community clean and make sure garbage goes where it's supposed to go," said web development student Sebastian Bertozzi.

College volunteer support specialist Jenny Rizk says the day marks an increase in volunteer participation.

"I'm very pleased," she said. "There are a lot of familiar faces that help us out a lot with volunteer events, but also some new faces as well."

It was a similar sight over at Mooney's Bay. Post-secondary students living at a nearby student housing complex took to the beach armed with trash pickers. The variety of garbage left behind by visitors became a talking point for volunteers.

"We found Ray-Bans randomly on the beach," laughed Humber College student Eric Sargado-Valle. "We found a condom, lots of bones. We're afraid of finding a human foot, but so far we haven't!"

As Sargado-Valle worked to clear the park playground, he said he believes climate crisis awareness is at an all-time high.

"People are more educated now and I think it has trickled down into this generation. We're now trying to do our part to preserve it for the future."

Carleton University student Taha Kazem said the day was an opportunity for to give back to a new community.

"I'm new here and so it's nice to get out and see the sights," he said. "It's very important that we keep this park very clean."

Meanwhile, educators are banding together to teach the next generation of climate awareness.

Woodroffe Avenue Public School teacher Lesley Kathnelson has launched the Blue Water Schools Network – an online resource to help teachers develop lesson plans based around the global water crisis.

"There's so many demands on teachers right now that they don't have time to research and curate and develop lessons," Kathnelson said. "At the same time, things are escalating so quickly with climate and water issues that if we wait for the government to catch up with curriculum, it'll be too late."

Kathnelson and a team of fellow teachers launched the network's site to coincide with Earth Day. It offers a variety of lessons in every subject area.

"We're starting the conversations in kindergarten right through Grade 12."

Kathnelson explains that rather than payment, the site asks schools to instead make a pledge.

"To educate about water, how to protect it, to educate about the human right to water, and also to educate about the harm that plastics are causing to our water."

The lessons can be found at Top Stories

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