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How to Involve Kids in Your Cleanup (with advice from a young person!)

This blog was written by Hannah Langley, a 2021-2022 KTB Young Texan Ambassador from Troy, about her experience including kids in a cleanup, why you should too, and steps to take to ensure success.

I had an amazing experience hosting my first cleanup as a Keep Texas Beautiful Young Texan Ambassador! I was proud to see elementary-aged school kids come out to volunteer with us. I think it's beneficial to include youth in trash cleanups because it teaches the importance of sustainability at a young age. 

The kids loved picking up the trash, they even turned it into a game to see who could pick up the most! It was really important that they associated cleaning up with fun and not just as a chore so they would be more likely to do it on their own. I hosted the cleanup at a park that most kids already enjoyed playing at. I also had kid-friendly snacks and beverages so they felt welcomed. Creating a space that made the kids feel comfortable was a priority during the cleanup. I encouraged them and kept the energy high to keep the kids motivated and excited. The kids felt like what they were doing was important. Putting the gloves on and using the trash grabbers was just icing on the cake for them.

Here are some steps you can take to properly include younger kids in cleanups:

  • Choose a kid friendly location
  • Keep a positive attitude throughout
  • Include parents in the cleanup
  • Don't forget the snacks!
  • Make sure every kid feels included in the cleanup
  • Let them talk and try to get them to lead 
Support from the parents was invaluable as well since their children will follow the example set for them. With the parents having a positive attitude towards cleaning up, their kids followed. A two year old even started to help out because she saw everyone else doing it and having fun! One of the parents from the cleanup reached out to me afterwards to tell me how their kids now make a point to pick up litter when they see it. I was glad to have helped influence the youth in my community in such a positive way! 

After we closed out on the day, I asked the kids to reflect on the cleanup with me. They were so excited to talk about their experience and show me all the stuff they picked up! I will most definitely host another cleanup with the kids and try to include a bigger group of them.

Overall, the kids added to a wonderful experience for my first cleanup. They did a phenomenal job and had so much fun participating! Including children in cleanups and teaching them about sustainability will go a long way in securing a brighter future for us all.


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Affiliate of the Month: Keep Wolfe City Beautiful
KTB's Volunteer of the Month: Babji Yalamanchili