-Ron Lapitan, Community Outreach Coordinator
Doing an interest booth at Kilmer Middle School.
“If you had the power to change one thing about your community, that if it changed, it would make people live healthier and better lives, what would you change?” I ask the middle schoolers.
“Higher minimum wage,” answers Aryan quickly. “If people had a higher wage, they could stay in their jobs, and there would be less poverty.”
“More homeless aid,” answers Natalie. “There are so many homeless people, and there should be more shelters and places to get food to help them.”
“Less pollution in the air,” answers Lauren after a thoughtful pause. “If there were less toxins in the air we breathe, less people would get sick.”
“Discrimination. It’s just a really big problem,” answers Sophie.
“Put grates over the sewers,” answers Cid. “My science teacher says that a lot of pollution goes in the ocean through sewers, so we could prevent it with grates.”
“Don’t put so many pesticides in the grass,” answers Varun. “Because when it rains, it goes into natural environments and kills the fish.”
“Less pollution in watersheds,” answers Neil. “The watershed that provides water to Virginia also provides for 6 states, who all contribute a lot of pollution to it. We have to work on keeping our drinking water clean.”
“Poverty,” answers Zack after a pause. “A lot of people aren’t able to do the things they want just because they don’t have money. I want people to be able to have fun.”
“Our program is looking for youth with ideas like yours,” I tell the students. Many express interest to come to the interest meeting.
“Has anyone asked you that question before?” I ask Zack.
“No,” he answers.
“That’s a shame, because you’ve obviously thought about it. And you obviously have ideas,” I say with a smile.
“We already have everything we need… all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”