DC Park Clean-up: Doing Our Share

By Tina Ngo, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff

This past Saturday, DC AALEAD youth, mentors, volunteers, staff, and our friends at CAPAL (Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership) participated in the Rock Creek Conservancy’s 7th Annual Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup at Piney Branch-Crestwood Park. It was a gorgeous day to be outside and kick off the start of spring! Our youth had lots of fun as they helped clean up the park while interacting with other volunteers and community members.

The event began with a short introduction and orientation from our site coordinator. Everyone was excited to see that lots of trees had been planted since we were here last year! Youth then gathered their clean-up materials (gloves, trash bags, and recycling bags) and broke off into teams, where they explored the short stretch of Rock Creek Park we were assigned. As AALEADers cleaned their way around the park, they discovered lots of interesting items throughout the morning, such as a bicycle tire, various articles of clothing, and even a deer skull! Youth also made it a point to separate trash from recyclables as they made their impressive findings.

Though our clean-up team was only at the park for about 2.5 hours, the grassy area that AALEADers helped clean was spotless by the time everyone was done! After youth collected all of the trash and recycling bags into piles along the road, it was time to replenish their energy. AALEADers snacked on crackers, fruit snacks, juice, and water while spending time with youth from other DC programs, mentors, volunteers, and staff.

The annual DC Park Clean-up is a great opportunity for AALEAD youth to not only learn about the importance of giving back to the community, but also, the significance of teamwork and building relationships with one another. Additionally, youth develop goals with their teams on how many items or trash bags they want to collect, helping them learn more about setting goals and accomplishing them as well.

Many thanks to all of our youth, mentors, volunteers, and staff who participated in this year’s clean-up! A special thank you to our friends at CAPAL who joined us for the third year in a row and provided the snacks for our youth as well as Doug Barker, Matthew Fleischer, and Karen Zeiter from the Rock Creek Conservancy for helping us coordinate the event and turning our plans into actions. We all had a wonderful time and look forward to seeing everyone again next year!

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