The fifth annual World Wetlands Day Cleanup brought everyone at Dr. Edward L. Whigham Elementary School together on Saturday, Feb. 20, to make a difference and foster an appreciation of natural resources in and near Cutler Bay.
Gathering at 9 a.m. at Black Point Jetty/Biscayne National Park and working until noon, more than 100 volunteers — including school staff, parents, students, community members and Town of Cutler Bay Council Member Roger Coriat — participated. School principal Cynara Suarez was pleased by the turnout, as was third grade WAVE teacher Adrian Delesdernier.
“It was great to see returning families and new families coming out to lend a hand,” Delesderniersaid . “I hope by doing this annual event we can inspire others to take better care of the environment.”
More than 550 pounds of trash were collected, including glass, paper, wood, shoes and plastic, which accounted for the majority of the trash. During the past five years, beginning in 2012, more than 3,000 pounds of trash has been collected.
World Wetlands Day is an international observance celebrated on six continents to commemorate the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands signed on Feb. 2, 1971. Whigham Elementary School has a Destination Academy, Whigham Aquatic Visionary Explorers (WAVE), where some 80 students in second through fifth grade study Aquatic Nature Studies.
Students learn about the effects people have on aquatic habitats, such as the coastal mangrove habitat of Biscayne National Park. The event is also meant to provide a way for students to give back to the community, and was sponsored in part by Dream in Green and the Green Schools Challenge.
Gabriel Radillo, a fourth grade WAVE student who also participated in the first cleanup in 2012, explained why it was important.
“We need a healthy world because we can’t survive in this pollution,” Radillosaid . “People don’t know they are killing themselves.”