January 23, 2022

Impassioned 10-year-old earns grant for community cleanup project

(Franklin, GA) — Motorists passing along Franklin Parkway in Heard County this weekend may see a group of folks cleaning the trash from the roadsides thanks to the initiative shown by a local 10-year-old Ms. Ava Childers.

The Heard Elementary fourth-grader recently applied for and received some money through the Hershey Heartwarming Young Heroes Grants for Youth-Led Service and Community Building Activities.

Ava Childers

Youth Service America (YSA) has been searching for Heartwarming Young Heroes with creative ideas to foster meaningful connections, promote inclusion and teach empathy and Ava certainly fits that billing.

With support from Hershey’s Heartwarming Project, YSA awarded various grants nationwide for youth-led service projects and community-building activities during Global Youth Service Day (April 23-25, 2021).

Youth ages 5-25 in the United States were eligible to apply.

With assistance from Heard County 4-H, Ava is using her $250 in grant monies to organize a community clean-up from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM Saturday along the parkway in downtown Franklin.

Ava originally planned the event a few weeks ago but was forced to postpone due to a severe weather forecast.

Ava was the only West Georgia area applicant to receive the grant and one of only 10 students in Georgia to have her idea accepted. She would also like to encourage anyone and everyone to support her idea by getting out and collecting trash even if they are not within her group or in the same area.

In her application for the grant, Ava cited some very good reasons for supporting her clean-up day.

“Community Cleanups are a great way to get everyone from any walk of life to band together and take care of their very own community. By partnering with my Heard County 4-H, I plan to get the kids involved which will help them to learn responsibility and create a cleaner future,” Ava wrote in her application.

She also pointed out the economic benefits as well as the improvement of the river which passes through downtown Franklin.

“As we all know littering is terrible for the environment, but also costs taxpayers a lot of money! The United States spends around 11.5 billion dollars each year on litter cleanup alone, and yet we still see litter everywhere. If communities could come together and help out and raise awareness we could see that price drop,” added Ava.

“I live in a town centered around the Chattahoochee River which supplies 70% of metro Atlanta’s drinking water. It is also used for industrial supply, irrigation, and power generation. It is considered to be the most heavily used water resource in Georgia. It is important that we keep any more litter from entering into the river. We can help with that by keeping the litter picked up and raising awareness.”

Ava even developed an official slogan for her project after writing a speech for school and presenting her ideas for a 4-H district achievement project.

“I recently wrote a speech for my science class and presented that speech for 4-H about the issue of littering, how it harms the environment, and what we can do to prevent it. My slogan was “Be a Part of the Solution Not the Pollution.” I have always done my part by not littering and picking up trash around my own yard — I would like to take this a step further by creating a community cleanup day. I want to BE a part of the solution,” Ava says.

Ava and her fellow youth volunteers will first meet at the Heard County 4-H building Saturday morning where they will discuss the importance of what they are doing and why it is important prior to the official two hour clean-up time.

The group will all meet afterwards to count the bags of trash, bags of recyclables, and as part of her funding her volunteer group will receive some t- shirts.

Ava and her team leaders will then distribute the trash to the local dump and recycle all that can be recycled. Heard County 4-H will provide team leaders and buses.

Local 4-H director Dinah Rowe is very proud of the work that Ava has done in organizing this event.

“When Ava came to me looking for a partner group, she had already done all the work to receive this grant on her own. This a big deal — I’ve never had a kid that just went off on their own and applied for a grant and received it,” says Rowe.

For those wishing to help Ava with project see the 4-H flyer below for more information. She also invites anyone child or adult to go out and clean areas on their own Saturday.

“Together with the 4H organization, I would like to eventually start a regular cleanup day every other month to maintain a clean community. My hope is that others in the community would see what we are doing and be more aware of the litter in area and begin to take pride in taking care of this beautiful community not just for ourselves but also for the sake of others,” says young Ava.

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