Be The Change

By: Claire Tribble

In the past couple of months, I have has the pleasure of working with an absolutely fantastic group of middle school students from Athens Renaissance School. They invited me (along with other local nonprofits) to speak to them back in January about what we do at Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful. They then chose what organization that they wanted to work with for their community service projects. Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful was chosen by 4 different groups!

This community service project, “Be the Change,” not only consisted of the community service act, but it also had an art piece accompanying it. These kids developed and executed amazing art pieces to go along with their chosen service! These pieces were displayed at the “Be the Change” Showcase on May 2. I was beyond impressed with all these kids and their hard work and creativity to boot!

The first group of students I worked with chose to clean up Lawson Street. This block-long stretch yielded 14 FULL bags, 3 tires, and several other large items that could not be bagged. This group of students chose to help Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful by designing t-shirts to celebrate our Earth Day Expo! They consulted a graphic designer in Huntsville to help them with their design, and had t-shirts printed! They gave these shirts away at our Earth Day Expo in April! We loved their design creativity! They also made bookmarks to give away, promoting Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful.

The second group chose to clean up the empty lot at the corner of Lee and Marion Street. These kids worked very hard to not only fill 15 bags of trash, but also to pull old duct work and parts of an old conveyor belt out of the brush. This group had an amazing idea — they created a sculpture from the trash they collected! They not only designed and created a large bird sculpture, they sculpted the Yellowhammer – the Alabama State Bird!

The third group went back to this same empty lot at Lee and Marion Street because, believe me, there was plenty more trash left to clean up! This group was able to fill 15 bags again. They chose to turn trash into trees! They cut trees and flowers out of paper and aluminum drink cans! They made beautiful bouquets of flowers from the trash! They also designed a matching game for their display board!

The fourth group of students joined me at Swan Creek Park behind Athens Middle School. We walked the track all the way to the Forest Street Bridge collecting trash. This group chose to paint the wooden bridge by HWY 251. And let me tell you, these kids have some major talent! They produced some BEAUTIFUL paintings. They also displayed their paintings at the Earth Day Expo.

We love, love, love working with student groups, and we hope that we get to work alongside the students participating in this project again! We love seeing how creative people can be and what they can learn from community service!

By: Claire Tribble – executive director, Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful