Four students at Palmer Trinity School in Palmetto Bay are bringing more than their sunscreen and coolers with them to the beach.
They’re bringing giant bags and loading them up with trash and debris for a good cause.
Delaney Reynolds, Maria Miranda, Daniel Abdelnour and Antonia Quintana are raising awareness for polluted beaches, rising sea levels and plastic bag overuse by hosting an art gala called “Save the Beach Miami” to take place in May.
The students came together in their Agents of Change class where they were given the task of designing a social initiative to project sustainability in their community. The course, taught by Dr. Leopoldo Llinas, requires students to present their initiatives to a panel of community leaders who have the potential to help fund their ideas.
“I think it’s really liberating for kids to understand what it’s like to be passionate about something,” Dr. Llinas said.
“We entitled our social initiative ‘Parinama,’ which means ‘change’ in Sanskrit,” said Reynolds, a sophomore. “There are three parts to Parinama: beach cleanups for upcycling art, Spring Into Shape for funding, and the art gala in May.”
The students arranged a series of beach cleanups to collect trash and debris that they upcycled into art to be showcased and sold at the art gala.
Upcycling is a term that refers to taking recycled items and using them to create new materials or products of value, according to Reynolds.
“The students were able to see a dirty bottle cap as a potential for a fish sculpture,” said Quintana, a senior. “They were able to see beyond a typical piece of trash and were able to alter their mindset in search for a Parinama.”
To fund the gala, the Eco Club is organizing an event, Spring Into Shape. Students can pay $5 to get an hour of activity time outside of class during earth week.
“As president of the Eco Club, I have connections with many organizations such as Debris Free Oceans to support the project. I have been able to host bake sales and get the school involved with beach clean ups,” said Miranda, a senior.
Debris Free Oceans is a non-profit organization, started by a Palmer Trinity alumnus, that approaches the issue of marine debris by reducing, reusing, recycling, recollecting and redesigning, according to the Debris Free Oceans website.
Part of maintaining a debris-free ocean is attacking the issue of plastic bags, according to Abdelnour, a senior.
“We noticed that it didn’t matter if we did 1,000 beach cleanups because the amount of plastics and other trash being consumed was much greater than we could collect,” Abdelnour said. “We had to attack the source of the problem — where the trash, especially the plastic, was coming from.”
Abdelnour is working on receiving the approval from the manager of the CVS in Palmetto Bay to switch from plastic bags to paper bags.
“Also, in trying to get his approval, we decided it would be a good idea to inform the people of why this change would be beneficial,” Abdelnour said. “At the art gala there will be an information booth with facts and videos made by students about the effect of plastics in our oceans.”
In addition, there will be a booth to raise awareness about rising sea levels and a yoga class.
“The exact date for the gala is to be determined, but we’re hoping to have it sometime in May at the Key Biscayne Nature Center,” Reynolds said. “Change, transformation, evolution, alteration and result — that is Parinama. That is Save the Beach Miami Art Gala. That is the future.”
Paisley Papineau is a junior studying public relations at the University of Florida.