Club Heal the Bay: Teens Schooled in Advocacy

You can learn a lot hanging out with motivated students, says Heal the Bay staffer Jenn Swart. Find out how you can get your school to join Club Heal the Bay.

With predictions of a wet El Niño winter and a deluge of sewage-related waste being released into Santa Monica Bay from a local sewage treatment plant, it’s clear that school environmental clubs have their work cut out for them.

But where to start?

 Last Sunday, 25 students representing nine different middle and high school environmental clubs crept into the closed-to-the-public Santa Monica Pier Aquarium to try and answer that question.

At the Heal the Bay-led after-hours workshop, it became clear that it’s easier to highlight a problem than to actually choose and plan an action to help. Clubs brainstormed their goals for the school year and then grouped them into themes common across all clubs.

Some examples were “Smarter Members and Smarter Schools,” in which education on current environmental issues is key; “Alternatives at School,” which tackles changing the way schools do things; “Cleanups”, which can be completed from coast to campus; and “Awareness Through Social Media,” where dedicated accounts can keep members and followers up-to-date with club happenings.

Choosing S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound) tasks or projects is crucial to seeing goals blossom, attendees learned. The group was lucky to hear from three youth leaders who’ve all completed dynamic projects in the past. From cleanups and fundraising, to youth boards and media interviews, Ben Moody, Fallon Rabin and Paige Hornbaker had great tips to share with the group.

The summit wrapped up with time for each club to reflect on what proposed projects would suit their vision for the year and then plot those goals onto a calendar of the school year. As a registered Club Heal the Bay partner, school groups also learned that participating in three events or netting three reward “drops” would earn them an invitation to our Beachy Celebration, which we will host at the end of the school year.

Whether it’s educating their own peers, spreading environmental awareness through social media alerts, or fundraising within their communities or local businesses, clubs from all grade levels and with varying membership bases strategized how to make a big splash this school year.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of our summit attendees and getting to meet their club members at October’s Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanup, this Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon.