READING, PA- Local college students spoke with kids in Reading Friday afternoon about how they could become more responsible stewards of their city.
More than 50 Penn State Berks students visited the Olivet Boys & Girls Clubs location on Clinton Street to teach children about the harmful effect littering has on the environment.
The Litter Learning Fun Day event was part of a pilot program partnership between The Center for Service Learning and Community-Based Research at Penn State Berks, the City of Reading, and the Boys & Girls Club.
“This really came about because I took the (Olivet) kids on the Schuylkill River Trail and Baer Park,” said Dr. Laurie Grobman, coordinator of the Center for Service Learning and an Olivet board member. “There is always litter there, particularly in the summer.”
Having the university, Olivet and the city combine efforts to prevent littering seemed like a good way to create positive change together, Grobman said.
The program began in October with students doing a clean-up of Baer Park. In the clean-up event, students broke out into groups with club kids and each group searched the park for certain types of litter.
“It was cool,” said club member Elaine Sierra, 10, who help search for glass.
The groups then looked at what they could throw away, what could be recycled or what could be made into compost.
“Instead of just giving students research to do, they get to work with kids and see how their work impacts lives,” said Jayne Park Martinez, a geoscience instructor at Penn State Berks. “I think the students who worked with the kids had the most fun out of anybody.”
Penn State Berks students also participated in the program by conducting interactive presentations where children could learn to identify and recycle various materials.
Students enrolled in Spanish III at the school performed bilingual skits depicting the negative impacts of littering on the environment and public relations students helped relay information about the project to media.
When the Penn State Berks students’ semester ends in two weeks, they will submit recommendations on how to fight littering to Olivet and city officials, Grobman said.
“We are hoping we can do this again next year,” Grobman said. “We will also be doing research to see what impact we have.”