Saturday, August 25, 2018
Volunteers celebrated during BCHD school garden cleanup

by David Mendez, Easy Reader News

The Beach Cities Health District kicked off its own countdown to the school year, gathering more than 150 people to refresh school gardens at BCHD’s annual Volunteer Day – so many volunteers that the district had to cap the number of people wanting to help.

“Our community is engaged, and we’re 10 years in here, so we’re seeing the benefits — it’s just a thing the community does,” said BCHD CEO Tom Bakaly. “The business sector, school leadership, city leadership, bringing everyone in to make an impact, and it’s working.”

The volunteers helped to clean up the LiveWell Kids Gardens at each of Redondo Beach Unified School District’s eight elementary schools, as well as Hermosa View School. The gardens are a hands-on component to a program that’s led to a severe drop in childhood obesity among Redondo’s elementary school-age kids: Today, 6.2 percent of elementary-age kids are obese, cutting the obesity rate by 68 percent in 10 years.

“The data speaks for itself, but it’s a steady flywheel approach … really a day-to-day, well-thought-out, comprehensive plan to combat childhood obesity,” RBUSD Superintendent Steven Keller said. “The Health District is like us – you’ve got personnel that can come and go, but you’ve got strong staff for both bodies that believe in the mission. The staff is there to make this happen.”

BCHD also gave recognition to outstanding volunteers Dan Smith, Rylee Goldfarb, and the South Bay Credit Union.

Smith is a regular volunteer with the Health District, working as a “garden angel,” overseeing the care and growth of the gardens around Redondo schools.

He spent the morning working with volunteers at Alta Vista Elementary School, helping them not be afraid to dig in to the gardens to pick veggies and move plants around.

Goldfarb has been working with El Segundo-based environmental nonprofit Grades of Green since she was in first grade. Grades of Green staffers recognized her as a green crusader from age 6 when she was spotted picking up trash around the school that kids left behind. Now into her eighth-grade year at Adams Middle School, she was honored for her history of spreading green practices.

In January, Goldfarb organized the “It’s Easy Being Green” festival at Adams Middle School, where she drew a number of environmentally-focused organizations together to educate the Redondo community.

She’s not planning on organizing the festival again, but she’s angling to try new things to carry on her mission.

“I’m still going to be teaching kids how to recycle, and how to teach people to be environmental,” Goldfarb said. “I’m hoping to partner with people internationally, to create something that can teach more people.”

To view full Easy Reader News article, click here.