Kids at the Upper Bucks Vocational Technical School in Pennsylvania believe in kid power, too. They're building an 85-foot-tall windmill — right in front of their school!
The kids have high hopes for the windmill. They say it will produce enough electricity to power the electronic billboard in their school cafeteria, as well as their school radio station!
They also plan to use solar energy to help the windmill produce even more power. "We're going to put up the solar panels at the base of the windmill," says Jason Overholt. He's one of the student builders. "That way, we can also power the lights in our parking lot:'
The windmill will save lots of energy, Jason told CONTACT. "Plus, windmills don't pollute the environment."
Kids in Pennsylvania have high hopes for the windmill they're building.
Lots of kids are pollution busters. Just ask Russell Essary, 11, of Forest Hills, NY. He and his younger sister Melanie have about 12,000 kids across the U.S. helping them solve pollution problems. They're all members of KiDS S.T.O.P.
Russell first started KiDS S.T.O.R to battle the shrinking of the ozone layer. (The ozone layer is an invisible shield that protects Earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.)
Melanie Essary speaks out against air pollution at a Senate hearing.
Russell found out that the coolant in air conditioners is made of chemicals called CFCs. CFCs destroy the ozone layer. So KiDS S.T.O.P.got to work. They helped get a state law passed. Now all air conditioning fluid must be recycled. (That way, CFCs aren't released into the air.)
When Senator Al Gore (he's now Vice President) heard about the state law, he wrote to KIDS S.T.O.P. "He wanted to make it a national law," Russell says. And that's what happened. It's part of the 1990 Clean Air Act. Better still, CFCs will soon no longer be used.
There's no stopping the eco-kids. As Melanie told CONTACT, "If kids don't save the Earth, Who will?"
from an article by Wendy Williams
Dream a Better World
A clean, healthy environment is possible. It starts with a dream ....
I like to imagine what it would be like if we had no environmental problems. I imagine a beautiful world. The air is clean, there is no such thing as Styrofoam. I imagine I wake up in my own house, eat my usual foods. But while I'm walking to school, I realize that the air seems clean. In school, the water I wash my hands with is clean. When I ask my teacher about pollution, she says there is no such word. I also ask her about the Alaskan oil spill. She says there were never any oil spills. I can't believe it. I ask my friend to pinch me so I can wake up. Then I do wake up. But I want the world to be like my dream.
This was written by Gideon Javna, age nine.
I'm Gideon's uncle and I'm about to be a dad for the first time. I am very excited. But I wonder what the world will be like for my child. Will he or she be able to enjoy the beautiful blue sky and the sound of the ocean at the beach? . . . Or be able to walk in the woods? . . . Or be able to listen to birds singing on a still day? I hope so. That is my dream.
Dreams are the way we decide what we want. We imagine something . . . and then we make it happen. It is an amazing art of being a human being.
So if you care about saving the Earth — and I know you do — then keep dreaming. Let your imagination show you which way to go. Dream a better world.
This was written by John Javna, age forty.
PRIDE IN THE CITY
Many American cities suffer from overcrowding, pollution, and too much garbage. But the young people of City Year are working to change all that.
CityYear members are between seventeen and twenty-three years old and are from all different backgrounds. They take pride in working to make their cities better places to live.
City Year members work at full-time jobs in community-service projects such as building houses for the homeless, teaching in schools, planting gardens, cleaning up parks and playgrounds, and helping senior citizens. It's hard work. But City Year members know at the end of each day that they have helped put a little pride back into the communities they serve.
Peggy Johnson of Boston, Massachusetts, joined CityYear in 1994, after talking to friends who were already members. She was inspired. So she signed up.
"City Year helps you down the line," Peggy says. "If you want to go to college it helps you get into college. It opens a lot of doors for you."
Peggy gets up and takes the subway to Boston's City Hall Plaza to meet her CityYear corps. "I leave my house at 7:30. I come here, and then I find out what we're going to do today."
"It's good because you get to meet people. For instance, there are people who have already gone to
college and there are people who are taking a year off to come here."
Peggy and the corps do physical training to warm up — and wake up — before going to their projects.
"We have to wear our CityYear jackets, pants, sweaters, shirts, boots, and book bags," says Peggy.
At work on the environmental project site. "We plant trees on the street. I didn't know that trees suck in all the pollution the cars throw out, so we don't get as much pollution."
"It feels good because we work in gardens and I can walk by and say, 'Oh, I had something to do
with that garden.'"
Peggy on CityYear: "Doing community service, that's what we do. That is what CityYear's all about."
CityYear friends take a break. Peggy says that she has "always loved learning about other people's cultures."
At the end of a long, busy day, Peggy and her teammates are tired but happy.
Peggy's team gets together for lunch.
For Chris Van Allsburg, the author and illustrator of many award-winning books, words and pictures go together. But for just a Dream, the words and pictures came together in an unusual way. Van Allsburg says that most of the time "A story starts with a picture in my mind . If I have nothing to do, an idea comes. With Just a Dream it was different. I started with the idea of getting kids concerned about pollution .... The hard thing when you're writing about real things like pollution —as opposed to fiction, to write a good story."
The pictures he uses to illustrate this good story show Van Allsburg's speal way of imagining things. His pictures are full of surprises. He likes to put things where you don't expect to see them, such as a bed on top of a smokestack or in a tree. He often shows things from unusual points of view too, such as houses as they would look from the sky.
Van Allsburg says that when he reads a book, he imagines how the people and the places look. When he writes a book, he likes to leave the reader with something to imagine too. "I like turning a face away a little bit .... I also like leaving something out of the story. There must be something to ponder at the end:'
Van Allsburg's first book, The Garden ofAbdul Gasazi, told about a small white dog named Fritz. Since then, Fritz has become something of 'a trademark. If you look hard enough, you will find him somewhere in most of Van Allsburg's books. you find him in Just a Dream?
Just A Dream
By: Chris Van Allsburg
As usual, Walter stopped at the bakery on his way home from school. He bought one large jelly-filled doughnut. He took the pastry from its bag, eating quickly as he walked along. He licked the red jelly from his fingers. Then he crumpled up the empty bag and threw it at a fire hydrant.
At home Walter saw Rose, the little girl next door, watering a tree that had just been planted. "It's my birthday present," she said proudly. Walter couldn't understand why anyone would want a tree for a present. His own birthday was just a few days away, "And I'm not getting some dumb plant," he told Rose.
After dinner Walter took out the trash. Three cans stood next to the garage. One was for bottles, one for cans, and one for everything else. As usual, Walter dumped everything into one can. He was too busy to sort through garbage, especially when there was something good on television.
The show that Walter was so eager to watch was about a boy who lived in the future. The boy flew around in a tiny airplane that he parked on the roof of his house. He had a robot and a
small machine that could make any kind of food with the push of a button.
Walter went to bed wishing he lived in the future. He couldn't wait to have his own tiny plane, a robot to take out the trash, and a machine that could make jelly doughnuts by the thousands. When he fell asleep, his wish came true. That night Walter's bed traveled to . . . the future.
Walter woke up in the middle of a huge dump. A bulldozer was pushing a heap of bulging trash bags toward him. "Stop!" he yelled.
The man driving the bulldozer put his machine in neutral. "Oh, sorry," he said. "Didn't see you."
Walter looked at the distant mountains of trash and saw half-buried houses. "Do people live here?" he asked.
"Not anymore," answered the man.
A few feet from the bed was a rusty old street sign that read FLORAL AVENUE. "Oh no," gasped Walter. He lived on Floral Avenue.
The driver revved up his bulldozer. "Well," he shouted, "back to work!"
Walter pulled the covers over his head. This can't be the future, he thought. I'm sure it's just a dream. He went back to sleep.
But not for long .. .
Walter peered over the edge of his bed, which was caught in the branches of a tall tree. Down below, he could see two men carrying a large saw. "Hello!" Walter yelled out.
"Hello to you!" they shouted back.
"You aren't going to cut down this tree, are you?" Walter asked.
But the woodcutters didn't answer. They took off their jackets, rolled up their sleeves, and got to work. Back and forth they pushed the saw, slicing through the trunk of Walter's tree. "You must need this tree for something important," Walter called down.
"Oh yes," they said, "very important." Then Walter noticed lettering on the woodcutters' jackets. He could just make out the words: QUALITY TOOTHPICK COMPANY. Walter sighed and slid back under the blankets.
Until. . .
Walter couldn't stop coughing. His bed was balanced on the rim of a giant smokestack. The air was filled with smoke that burned his throat and made his eyes itch. All around him, dozens of smokestacks belched thick clouds of hot, foul smoke. A workman climbed one of the stacks.
"What is this place?" Walter called out.
"This is the Maximum Strength Medicine Factory," the man answered.
"Gosh," said Walter, looking at all the smoke, "what kind of medicine do they make here?"
"Wonderful medicine," the workman replied, "for burning throats and itchy eyes."
Walter started coughing again.
"I can get you some," the man offered.
"No thanks," said Walter. He buried his head in his pillow and, when his coughing stopped, fell asleep.
But then .. .
Snowflakes fell on Walter. He was high in the mountains. A group of people wearing snowshoes and long fur coats hiked past his bed.
"Where are you going?" Walter asked.
"To the hotel," one of them replied.
Walter turned around and saw an enormous building. A sign on it read HOTEL EVEREST. "Is that hotel," asked Walter, "on the top of Mount Everest?"
"Yes," said one of the hikers. "Isn't it beautiful?"
"Well," Walter began. But the group didn't wait for his answer. They waved goodbye and marched away. Walter stared at the flashing yellow sign, then crawled back beneath his sheets.
But there was more to see .. .
Walter's hand was wet and cold. When he opened his eyes, he found himself floating on the open sea, drifting toward a fishing boat. The men on the boat were laughing and dancing.
"Ship ahoy!" Walter shouted. The fishermen waved to him. "What's the celebration for?" he asked.
"We've just caught a fish," one of them yelled back. "Our second one this week!" They held up their small fish for Walter to see.
"Aren't you supposed to throw the little ones back?" Walter asked.
But the fishermen didn't hear him. They were busy singing and dancing.
Walter turned away. Soon the rocking of the bed put him to sleep.
But only for a moment .. .
A loud, shrieking horn nearly lifted Walter off his mattress. He jumped up. There were cars and trucks all around him, horns honking loudly, creeping along inch by inch. Every driver had a car phone in one hand and a big cup of coffee in the other. When the traffic stopped completely, the honking grew even louder. Walter could not get back to sleep.
Hours passed, and he wondered if he'd be stuck on this highway forever. He pulled his pillow tightly around his head. This can't be the future, he thought. Where are the tiny airplanes, the robots? The honking continued into the night, until finally, one by one, the cars became quiet as their drivers, and Walter, went to sleep.
But his bed traveled on . .
Walter looked up. A horse stood right over his bed, staring directly at him. In the saddle was a woman wearing cowboy clothes. "My horse likes you," she said.
"Good," replied Walter, who wondered where he'd ended up this time. All he could see was a dull yellow haze.
"Son," the woman told him, spreading her arms in front of her, "this is the mighty Grand Canyon."
Walter gazed into the foggy distance.
"Of course," she went on, "with all this smog, nobody's gotten a good look at it for years." The woman offered to sell Walter some postcards that showed the canyon in the old days. "They're real pretty," she said.
But he couldn't look. It's just a dream, he told himself. I know I'll wake up soon, back in my room.
But he didn't . . .
Walter looked out from under his sheets. His bed was flying through the night sky. A flock of ducks passed overhead. One of them landed on the bed, and to Walter's surprise, he began to speak. "I hope you don't mind," the bird said, "if I take a short rest here." The ducks had been flying for days, looking for the pond where they had always stopped to eat.
"I'm sure it's down there somewhere," Walter said, though he suspected something awful might have happened. After a while the duck waddled to the edge of the bed, took a deep breath, and flew off. "Good luck," Walter called to him. Then he pulled the blanket over his head. "It's just a dream," he whispered, and wondered if it would ever end.
Then finally . . .
Walter's bed returned to the present. He was safe in his room again, but he felt terrible. The future he'd seen was not what he'd expected. Robots and little airplanes didn't seem very important now. He looked out his window at the trees and lawns in the early morning light, then jumped out of bed.
He ran outside and down the block, still in his pajamas. He found the empty jelly doughnut bag he'd thrown at the fire hydrant the day before. Then Walter went back home and, before the sun came up, sorted all the trash by the garage.
A few days later, on Walter's birthday, all his friends came over for cake and ice cream. They loved his new toys: the laser gun set, electric yo-yo, and inflatable dinosaurs. "My best present," Walter told them, "is outside." Then he showed them the gift that he'd picked out that morning — a tree.
After the party, Walter and his dad planted the birthday present. When he went to bed, Walter looked out his window. He could see his tree and the tree Rose had planted on her birthday. He liked the way they looked, side by side. Then he went to sleep, but not for long, because that night Walter's bed took him away again.
When Walter woke up, his bed was standing in the shade of two tall trees. The sky was blue. Laundry hanging from a clothesline flapped in the breeze. A man pushed an old motorless lawn mower. This isn't the future, Walter thought. It's the past.
"Good morning," the man said. "You've found a nice place to sleep."
"Yes, I have," Walter agreed. There was something very peaceful about the huge trees next to his bed.
The man looked up at the rustling leaves. "My great-grandmother planted one of these trees," he said, "when she was a little girl."
Walter looked up at the leaves too, and realized where his bed had taken him. This was the future, after all, a different kind of future. There were still no robots or tiny airplanes. There weren't even any clothes dryers or gas-powered lawn mowers. Walter lay back and smiled. "I like it here," he told the man, then drifted off to sleep in the shade of the two giant trees — the trees he and Rose had planted so many years ago.