The Green Knights Environmental Club at Newington Forest Elementary School in Springfield is one of the 2008 winners of the Johnie Forte, Jr. Memorial Litter/Recycling Grant awarded by the Clean Fairfax Council. The grant is funding a Green Knights project called "Keeping Our Forest Clean," in which students pick up litter and encourage litter prevention. The club used the money to buy litter grabbers and gloves, which are available for anyone at the school to borrow. The students created a mural using bits of litter and trash, highlighting the contrast between a clean world and one covered in trash.
On the group's first venture outside to pick up litter, they were met with other students at the playground asking, "Can we help? I want to help pick up litter too!"
"We didn't have litter grabbers for them, but they quickly improvised by picking up sticks and using them to poke at litter. The students all worked great together and the bags quickly filled up," says Kelly Wilson, one of the group's coordinators. Two big bags were collected, one for recyclables and one for trash.
"Teaching the young kids how to keep the Earth clean will provide the Earth a better future," said Courtney White, a Green Knights member.
The Green Knights presented their project at an awards ceremony at the Earth Day/Arbor Day Celebration at the Northern Virginia Community College Annandale Campus on April 19.
For more info on the Clean Fairfax Council's Earth Day/Arbor Day Celebration, go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/publications/recycling/event-earth.pdf.
The Green Knights is a PTA-sponsored club in its inaugural year with about 20 student members from first to sixth grades. The club focuses on environmental experiments and activities, including building a solar car and burying various items to see what would happen to them over a period of months. The students began the school's recycling program and have helped it grow. Organic farming and foods as well as earth-friendly household cleaners have also been topics at Green Knights meetings.