The court we use with the Santoni group is a space shared by the school and everyone in the Independencia neighborhood. Unfortunately, a lack of trash receptacles, a culture that acquiesces to littering, and the popularity of the space for late night drinking results in trash, glass and other debris cluttering our playing space. We often change our stretching routine to avoid touching the ground. Though we’ve spoken to the school and the local police station about a solution, trash continues to litter the court. Fed up with falls resulting in glass slicing the skin of our participants, we decided to host a field clean up. The community has yet to embrace the necessity of caring for shared space, but it is a lesson we are determined to impart to the girls.
Equipped with brooms, dust pans, gloves, and trash bags, the girls set off in pairs in competition to see who could gather the most garbage. The one stipulation was that only adults were allowed to pick upglass. After a short time, pairs lugged over full trash bags and begged for another. Astonishingly, we ran out of bags before the girls lost interest – and much trash remained. Still, the girls generated bags and bags of litter, and delighted in seeing the results of their combined effort. Circled up after the clean-up, we discussed how it only took a small group of caring individuals to make an impact. We reinforced that trash belongs in a bin, and that littering affects everyone in the community. The girls now know that if they see anyone throw trash on the ground, they have a right to tell them to stop. The court still needs a lot of work, but we hope the girls are increasingly aware of the issue and the role they can play in its solution.