Hundreds of Kids Celebrate Earth Day at Friends of VINP Event

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Gifft Hill School students display their posters encouraging green living during the Litter Stomp parade, above, while local botanist Eleanor Gibney, below second from right, talks plants with St. John schoolchildren at the Friends of the VINP’s Earth Day fair on Friday, April 19.

Shouts of “Go green!” and other Earth Day-inspired chants rang through the streets of Cruz Bay as more than 100 island schoolchildren paraded from the Julius E. Sprauve School to the V.I. National Park ball field in the Litter Stomp parade, sponsored by the V.I. Waste Management Authority, on Friday morning, April 19.

At the culmination of the parade, children made their way into the VINP ball field, where local organizations, government agencies, and vendors awaited them with fun activities like face painting and making necklaces, all the in name of Earth Day.

“Children need to be educated about the basics of life ­— nature, plants, and how connected we all are,” said Delroy “Ital” Anthony, who was at the event representing his Native Arts & Crafts business.

“We’re here so the kids can make something and have some fun,” said Gerry Londergan of the Unitarian Universalist Church, which helped the kids make paper necklaces.

Several island schools were represented, including Head Start, whose young students were delighted to have their faces painted.

“We try to encourage participation and learning as much as we can,” said Head Start teacher Bernice Roberts. “We try to teach them what’s important about Earth Day. The kids are having fun.”

Gifft Hill School students marched in the Litter Stomp parade carrying hand-made signs promoting Earth Day, and GHS middle schoolers performed their own litter stomp dance at the VINP ball field.

“We’re here to spread the word about keeping the Earth green,” said GHS Lower Campus Dean Beth Knight.

The St. John Montessori school has participated each year in the Friends’ Earth Day event, explained school director and founder Debra Polucci, who had 25 students and several teachers and parent helpers in attendance.

“We do a lot of ecology with our children,” said Polucci. “We talk about the Earth, soil, pollutants, and botany. This event is kind of a culmination.”

On hand monitoring the day’s events was Friends of the VINP Program Manager Karen Jarvis, who expected close to 400 schoolchildren to attend the Earth Day festivities.

“Obviously the world is changing, and we need to encourage our kids to have green habits,” said Jarvis. “Little changes can make a huge impact, and that’s especially magnified here on St. John. Today’s kids will be ambassadors, preserving what we have here.”

The Friends’ Earth Day events concluded on Saturday, April 20, with the Reef Fest at Trunk Bay.