Well Done, Boston Latin School Youth Can!

By Quynh-Nhu Le

For about the past five years, Boston Latin School Youth CAN has engaged students both in school and in the community in environmental stewardship projects.

Five years! That’s a long time to have been doing this. I joined BLS Youth CAN about three years ago. I have seen it grow tremendously over that time. Our Education for Sustainability campaign, which aims to get sustainability integrated into BLS’s curriculum, has taken off. We just held our second Summer Institute for teachers interested in developing curriculum for the campaign.

We’ve also worked to improve the school facilities, started a school garden and introduced Zero-Sort Recycling to the school. Honestly, Youth CAN has worked so hard these past years in order to improve youth awareness and school facilities that sometimes it’s very tiring, especially when you hit roadblocks on your project. Of course, the project itself is fun and rewarding. BUT, there are times when you really wonder how much what you’re doing really impacts others.

That’s where the PEYA award came in. I think my group collectively screamed when we found out we had won the PEYA Region 1 Award. The EPA is, of course, known for its mission to protect human health and the environment (since of course the two are inextricably tied together). It awards the President’s Environmental Youth Award to regional youths for outstanding environmental projects. This year, one of the ten awards was given to BLS Youth CAN.

We got to go to the award ceremony at Faneuil Hall in Boston, and even did a short skit about the importance of recycling that we developed when rolling out our Zero-Sort Recycling program at BLS.

The fact that the hard work we had done was recognized is immensely satisfying. I mean, some of our student leaders spend nearly every afternoon planning the next steps BLS Youth CAN will take. The PEYA award makes us feel all the work is worth it, because it is impacting places beyond the boundaries of our school.

I hope other youth groups and individuals out there are inspired to pursue their own projects by the work we have done, by the importance the EPA has placed on recognizing youth engagement in environmental stewardship, and by the dedication of all the PEYA winners.

Trust me. The personal satisfaction at making a positive impact on the community is worth it.

About the author: Quynh-Nhu Le is a Boston Latin School student & member of BLS Youth Can.

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