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TGS Fellows Organize Park Clean-Up - Hear from our Kid Organizer!

On July 24, 24 volunteers came to Dogwood Park to pick up trash and clean up the park. The clean-up event, called Giving Green DC, was organized jointly by two people (Alona, a kid, and Emily, an adult). Alona and Emily met through our Fellows program and both share a passion for making the world a "clean, safe place for many generations to come." We spoke with Alona, kid organizer and TGS Fellow, to learn more about the clean-up event. Read our conversation with Alona below!

A tree with green leaves, with "Giving Green DC" written on the trunk and green hands holding up the tree
Artwork for the Giving Green DC event by Alona, event organizer

Q: Why do you care about nature?


Alona: I care about nature because I would always read books, I still do, and every time there’s this hideout in the woods, where you push the leaves aside and you enter to this beautiful cavern with a telescope and chairs and lots of cool things. I wanted that, I really, really wanted that, I still want that. But there are no more huge forests outside your house, no caves or hidden entrances. Even if there were, it’s not safe anymore. Too much trash and broken glass, my mom would never let me wander in the forest with my friends. So, to let kids in the next generation have that fairytale, that secret hideout, cleaning up the parks and forests is the first step. It will also save the wildlife, the birds that chirp in the morning, and the dolphins that swim around in the ocean cheerfully.


Q: Why was this first clean-up important to you?


Alona: I feel this first cleanup was really important because now I can see how it would work and make the future cleanups better, I also think it was important because we can also find out if this is fun for people, and many loved the clean-up, and they told us that it was really enjoyable!

Q: How did it feel before and after?


Alona: Before the cleanup, I was really nervous but excited. I was afraid everything would go wrong. I knew I had worked on this for a few months with Emily but it was still scary! When we got there, I felt a bit better, seeing that everything was set up and no one had come too early. We had time to organize everything. Once the cleanup was over, I was so happy, I felt like I did a lot of good, but I also felt accomplished because Emily and I did this, just us, my parents didn’t help. (I appreciate their help, but it is fun to do things by myself) I told this to my mom, and she told me that was the point, she tried to not help me, so that I could know that I can do things without them and succeed!

Q: What were the biggest challenges you faced?


Alona: A few of our bigger challenges were getting the word out, we didn’t know if we should send an email, Eventbrite, or something else! I was worried not that many people would see it, though over 25 people came!! Another challenge was liability, we didn’t want to be responsible for any injuries (which there never were any) during the cleanup, so Emily had talked to Amy’s lawyer for some liability forms, and even the Rockville Parks & Recreation supplied us with COVID-19 liability forms after we also talked to them about our next problem, placement of the cleanup. You see, we had chosen a park, but Rockville Parks & Recreation said that the park might change, because people had adopted the stream in the park. This was a problem because we only found out a few days before the cleanup, and we had already put out an Eventbrite for our cleanup at the park we were going to do a cleanup for. In the end, we were able to stay in the park we had chosen.

Q: What is your advice to other kids who might have similar ideas but don't know where to start?


Alona: I think a great piece of advice would be just to get started with it. If you keep the idea to yourself it would never happen, would it? Find someone with the same interests as you, and work on it. The more people helping, the merrier! For instance, I met Emily through The Giving Square Fellowship, while we were talking about problems that concerned us. Emily and I answered very similarly, with the other fact that the environment was getting smaller by the day and more polluted and dirty. We worked together, and we did it! So don’t wait. No matter how old you are, 6, 9, 15, or 40, do it! Nothing is impossible, not without work put into it.


Check out some awesome photos from Giving Green DC's first clean-up event!