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#5291: Students benefit from Green leaves event (fwd)
Published Thursday, October 5, 2000, in the Miami Herald
Students benefit from Green Leaves event
`These kids are seeing how trash affects our environment.'
NADINE PATRICE, founder of Operation Green Leaves
BY MIREIDY FERNANDEZ
About 2,000 pounds of trash, or two city trucks worth, were picked up
Saturday for what is likely to be the future site of a park and
recreational spot for North Bay Villagers. Representatives from
Operation Green Leaves, a local, nonprofit Haitian organization
dedicated to global environmental protection, coordinated the
three-hour event with the help of the county's Department of
Environmental Resource Management (DERM) in cleaning up the polluted
areas around Pelican Harbor. Gregory Laguerre, 12, was one of 30 Haitian
students who volunteered and picked up broken beer bottles, old
newspapers and other trash. Like Laguerre, the students attend Ebenezer
Christian Academy at the Full Gospel Assembly Church in Little Haiti.
``Picking up the trash made me feel like I was saving the fish in the
water from eating and drinking the polluted water,'' Gregory said. ``If
people keep throwing out trash into the ocean, our air is going to be
dirty, and we won't be able to breathe right.'' Emy Etienne Jr. agreed.
``It's good to protect our environment because we don't want the water
that we drink to be polluted,'' Emy said. Nancy St. Phard said she knew
the importance of keeping litter in its place. ``I've learned that it
takes thousands of years for mother nature to destroy all the
trash we picked up,'' she said. Nadine Patrice, founder of the decade
old Operation Green Leaves, was pleased at the lessons learned.
``This is the first time that these kids are learning about pollution
and the environment, and the way to change behavior is through
education,'' she said. ``These kids are seeing how trash affects our
environment.'' Operation Green Leaves develops environmental programs
for Miami-Dade students through a $60,000 grant from DERM.
North Bay Village City Manager Rafael Casals showed up to volunteer at
Saturday's clean up event. ``The importance of this is that, regardless
of where you throw trash, it's going to hurt the environment,'' he said.
``This is the kind of trash you don't see from the
street.'' Casals said the city has plans to use Pelican Harbor as a
recreation area, but, because it's on county turf, there is little city
officials can do to make it a reality. ``We're looking to work with the
county into the possibility of having an eco-system there and teach kids
about oceanography,'' Casals said. ``It would be a great place where
families could spend their time with the children.'' For the new fiscal
year, Miami-Dade has budgeted some funds to make those plans a reality,