About 200 white-shirted West End students from Isaac Brock and General Wolfe schools were out in force last Thursday for the 21st annual Sweep Off event organized by the West End Biz, and their efforts were not unnoticed.
"It builds respect in us. Kids aren’t a nuisance, they’re an asset" said Ed Braum of Clifton Street after a troop of about 25 gloved Isaac Brockites had passed his house with garbage and recycling bags.
"Now you got me motivated to pick up my own garbage," he said, leaning over to pick up some soggy paper from his front yard.
Geraldine Head, who has two children at Isaac Brock, said she was the only parent to join the morning shift of 50 students cleaning areas north of the school as far as Sargent Avenue.
"It’s very important for the community to get involved with school stuff. That’s big…the kids are very enthusiastic. If adults were like that we wouldn’t have an issue," she said.
Grade 8 student Alexa Winkler said she and classmates were honked and waved at as they progressed on the cleanup. She said litterbugs should consider what a cleaner neighbourhood means to residents.
"They’ll be happy and like living there and not want to move because there’s litter."
Isaac Brock teacher Fernando Batista said his group of 25 students filled six garbage and six recycling bags in two hours, and another shift was due out in the afternoon.
He said the annual event gives students a sense of value for their community, and they remember it.
"We have (alumni) that visit after 10 years and they still remember the neighbourhood cleanup."
To the east, General Wolfe students numbered about 125. From their Ellice Avenue school they tackled 16 blocks to Balmoral Street, along not only Ellice but also Notre Dame, Sargent, and Portage Avenues.
Biz executive director Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner said teachers allowed eager students to clean up and down some side streets, even though those areas were to be targeted by the annual Massive West End Spring Cleanup organized by community groups the following Saturday.
"We’re co-operating for the same garbage," joked Cardwell-Hoeppner.
This year, for the first time, Biz created a central pile of filled bags at Saigon Park on Ellice, Cardwell-Hoeppner said.
"We really wanted the kids to see all of it… they can see the tangible difference that they’re making," she said.
Another first this year was the sponsorship of Recycle Everywhere, a program of the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association, which provided recycling bags and bins and also staffed a tent at the park to share recycling knowledge and give out goodies like pencils made from recycled newsprint.
The city’s public works department provided rakes, brooms, and bags and hauled away the piles at day’s end.
Biz reported the bag count exceeded last year’s total of 286, but didn’t provide a specific total.
Found gloveless and bagless, yet toting brooms on their lunch break, Grade 9 General Wolfe students Janela Barrera, Charlene Vivo, and Viengkham Vongkhamchanh said they’d collected about 10 bags during the morning.
Vivo said they also had been waved and honked at by a supportive public, and also had a message for litterbugs.
"Please don’t litter because it’s causing bad things for the environment…put it in the garbage, or recycling."