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Teens get creative to help keep Claremont green

Spring cleaning has new significance for some of Claremont’s youth. A group of enterprising adolescents descended upon the downtown area last week for a special afternoon cleanup, conducted through the Youth Activity Center’s new “Teen Green 4 A Cleaner Claremont” program.  

Teen Green was created under the leadership of the Claremont Teen Committee and tasked with finding a solution to combat complaints about the amount of litter in the Claremont Village, especially on days Claremont schools have early dismissal. Their brainstorming gave birth to a youth-oriented organization, which meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, using service to educate local teens about the important of trash disposal. With garbage bags and trash picks in tow, local junior high and high school students are helping to keep the streets of Claremont clean.

“We want to be a part of the solution and not the problem,” said Arianna Moss, a Claremont High School sophomore and teen committee member. “We want to show our community that we care.”

The Teen Activity Center (TAC) and Youth Activity Center (YAC)—providing after-school refuge for thousands of local junior high and high school students—have played an integral part in connecting young Claremonters with the community they call home. Tie-dying sessions and team-building exercises, among others, provide the basis for encouraging both social and intellectual development. Alejandra Colon, an eighth grader at El Roble, says she makes it a point to participate in TAC activities at least four days a week.

“I enjoy spending time with my friends and finding out about ways to help my community,” she shared.

Alejandra, who says she regularly helps out at local senior facilities and enjoys caring for her grandmother, was eager to apply her passion for volunteerism to the efforts of the Teen Green cleanup.

“I love the Village and it’s important to me to keep our streets nice and clean,” she said.

Alejandra’s eagerness to give back is a common thread among the group’s membership. Rukmini Ravi, a junior at Claremont High School, says she enjoys spending her spare time as a Claremont Teen Committee member because it’s important to her to create further opportunities for teens like herself who want to give back.

“Claremont lacks volunteer opportunities for teens,” she said. “I want to help provide those opportunities to help get teens more involved in the community.”

The teen committee, which meets at 3:15 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month, helps do just that, giving Rukmini and her classmates with the chance to get involved in community events. Her favorite volunteer activities through the teen committee have included working with children as part of the city’s annual Halloween Spooktacular and the Spring Celebration, taking place next week. With Teen Green 4 A Cleaner Claremont, she hopes to get others to heed the call to give back.

Though the teens take their work seriously, it isn’t all strictly business. Claremont kids who take part in the efforts are provided with a sweet incentive for their hard work. After properly disposing of trash and turning in recyclables, participants took a moment to enjoy the fruits of their labor with some frozen yogurt at 21 Choices in Village West. It’s well-earned, insists program coordinator Katie Distelrath, who oversaw Wednesday’s cleanup with coordinator Ali Martinez.

“It makes my heart happy that they take such pride in their community,” Ms. Distelrath said. “It’s neat to see them get involved and take ownership of what they do.”

For more information on Teen Green 4 A Cleaner Claremont, call (909) 399-5360 or visit the city of Claremont Youth Activity Center page on Facebook.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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