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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Santa Monica State Beach, Los Angeles, USA

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Santa Monica State Beach, Los Angeles, USA
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Registered: July 2018
City/Town/Province: Campbell
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A lot of people believe that we all should be a little greener in order to do our part and protect the environment. A lot of these people also think that individuals with disabilities should be treated with respect and kindness. However, the sad reality is that both of these ethical standards, while good in intention, are rarely put into action. On Earth Day 2018, My fellow Best Buddy peers and I were able to make both of these ideal standards a reality.

Best Buddies is a nation-wide organization with the purpose of including the disabled community with the rest of their college peers. As a part UCLA Best Buddies, students create one-on-one friendships between a person with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to help improve the quality of life and the level of inclusion for a group of people that are often excluded. As a Best Buddies chapter, all the IDD buddies at UCLA and their associate buddies loaded up in a van, and drove off to a nearby park in Los Angeles to pick up trash while raising awareness about people with disabilities.

Upon arriving at the park, the IDD buddies and I spent over 9 hours picking up trash. Although I was happy that we were making our big city of Los Angeles a little more eco-friendly, I enjoyed those 9 hours because I was watching the IDD buddies have such a great time. While picking up trash, the buddies with IDD would play music, often stopping to bust out their favorite dance moves that feature a piece of trash. The IDD buddies would smile and laugh as they held dance competitions and performed park karaoke, which made helping out our planet an even better experience. The group had so much fun picking up trash that we actually had families come up to us and ask about the Best Buddies program. Most of the families, after hearing what we were doing, decided to join in on the fun and help us pick up trash. What started as a group of college students and individuals with IDD became a whole community effort to help make our city greener.

Ultimately, this event made me realize how important it is to gather a group of people to not only give back to the environment, but have fun while doing it. Watching smiles emerge on faces and arms fly in the air as people danced while they picking up trash has inspired our group to complete more environmental volunteer projects. Just this past month, we spent an entire weekend picking up trash along the Santa Monica state beach - a notoriously tourist beach in west Los Angeles. Immediately after our beach clean-up, I sent a letter to California Senator Dianne Feinstein about my concerns with the lack of recycling and compost programs in Los Angeles that caused such massive littering.

While my new home in L.A. will never compare to the Calaveras State Parks that I grew up with in my Northern Californian hometown, I now know I can try my best to teach people in the big city about sustainability. I think passing the message to be eco-friendly and care about the planet will help me not only connect to my hometown, but it will also help me adjust to my new home in Los Angeles. Hopefully, with my efforts along with the efforts of those in UCLA Best Buddies, we can make California's concrete jungle a little greener.
Date: July 25, 2018 Views: 4847 File size: 21.2kb, 485.5kb : 2048 x 1361
Hours Volunteered: 50
Volunteers: 10
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 19
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