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12-Year-Old Organizes Cleanup

Japan Trip Stokes Environmental Instincts Of Eighth-Grader

November 17, 2005
By MELISSA PIONZIO, Courant Staff Writer

Twelve-year-old Chanelle Adams says traveling to Aichi, Japan, to attend an environmental summit this past July was the experience of her young lifetime.

The nine-day trip took her far from her Bloomfield home, allowing her to meet children from all over the globe, try different foods and learn about Japanese culture and customs.

But what struck the eighth-grader the most was the enthusiasm people in Japan share about protecting the environment.

"The way they keep their environment is cleaner than ours," said Chanelle, who attends Lewis Fox Middle School Science Academy in Hartford's Blue Hills neighborhood. "They appreciate life more. They recycle and grow their own produce instead of depending on the stores to feed them."

When she returned home, Chanelle came up with her own environmental protection plans.

Her first idea was to create a recycling depot, where people could bring recyclable items. But, she said, the logistics proved too complicated.

Instead, she decided to clean up the neighborhood around her school. She has asked everyone she can think of - including Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez and several legislators - to help. She also wrote letters to the managers of local Lowe's and Home Depot stores asking for donations of garbage bags, gloves and rakes.

The project, scheduled for Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m., begins in front of her school on Blue Hills Avenue. Chanelle plans to divide more than 100 volunteers into work crews that will spend about two hours picking up trash. The volunteers will be fortified by donated coffee, juice, donuts and bagels.

"I wanted to start this project because I wanted people to know that America needs to be cleaned up, too," she said. "Everybody thinks America is the best, but it could use some help."

Constance Mack, a special education teacher at Clark School in Hartford also took the trip to Japan, and got to know Chanelle.

"I was very excited about her project because it really is something that needs to be done," said Mack, who plans to bring some Clark students to the cleanup.

"The children in Hartford really have so little to do. If they can see that they can clean a little area and have success, maybe they can believe they can do something else."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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