Nearly 4,000 Los Angeles students, teachers and volunteers helped clean up Dockweiler Beach today during the annual Kids Ocean Day.
Now in its 21st year, the event is a culmination of a yearlong school program led by the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education that puts kids in touch with nature while encouraging them to reduce their waste.
"That is the picture that we present to the kids ... that there is an impact to you dropping trash 10 miles away," said Michael Klubock, executive director of the foundation. "It really is about connecting the kids to the beach and ocean, increasing their awareness of the impact of their actions," he said.
In addition to picking up trash and learning about the ocean, the students from 33 area schools helped form a giant human text message -- "Clean Me Up" -- that was photographed from the air. Klubock said that the human art piece helped give a voice to the children.
"The big part of the program after their education is getting them down to the beach so they are engaged," Klubock said. "It is getting their voice participating in a huge art piece so that their voice is heard," he said.
Of the nearly 4,000 participants, Klubock said that around 400 students were visiting the beach for the first time, despite living only a few miles away from it. He said that connecting those kids to the beach is critical to turning them into stewards of the environment.
"That is part of the program too -- getting a person in touch with nature and getting them turned on to it," Klubock said. "That in turn gets them thinking 'hey, this is something that is really cool and I want to do something to take care of it."'
Kids Ocean Day was sponsored by the city of Los Angeles Stormwater Program and its Board of Public Works, as well as the California Coastal Commission.
--City News Service