Today's blogger is Ana Luisa Ahern, Heal the Bay's newly hired Interactive Campaigns Manager.
This year’s final Nothin’ but Sand Beach Cleanup took place last Saturday in Venice at Rose Avenue. It was my first Heal the Bay event (I just moved here to start a new staff position) and I was so impressed with the large turnout of more than 800 volunteers who showed up to support clean beaches and a healthy environment.
Many of the participants I spoke with were young people: college students, high school groups and children taking time out of their busy weekends to lend a hand to Heal the Bay’s efforts to clean up the Santa Monica Bay. One particularly touching story came from Christie, a student at Santa Monica's Lincoln Middle School, who formed the Heal the Bay Lincoln Lions Club to honor her late grandfather Don Hedrick, a surfer and ocean advocate.“He loved Heal the Bay,” Christie said as she and her group of friends enthusiastically pulled plastic bags and other trash out of a stormdrain, preventing the debris from reaching the ocean.
I was inspired by how much awareness all these young people had about their natural environment and how they felt a sense of responsibility for protecting it. It’s not what one would expect, considering mainstream media’s portrayal of California youth. It was refreshing to hear from college students about their genuine concern for the environment. “I love the beach. I think it’s really important to keep it clean, keep it safe for everyone who enjoys it,” a Loyola Marymount University student told me.
This sense of service and social responsibility was echoed in everyone I met. A seventh grader discussed some of the reasons why he showed up to the cleanup.“I want the place that I live in to be cleaner and nicer, I don’t want it to be filled with trash. I love that I’m helping people, I’m cleaning the environment and I know that I’m doing something good,” he told me. “I make new friends too,” he added with a smile.