Making Houston a Little Greener

By Priya Rao, PAIR Volunteer

Imagine a group of approximately 20 teenagers, sweaty and dirty, digging in the mud for trash. Now imagine them having a blast doing it. Sound crazy? This was the scene at Brays Bayou on March 26, when PAIR College Counseling participated in the Trash Bash at Mason Park.

When I arrived, I saw trash scattered all along the shores of the bayou. The kids arrived earlier than the volunteers did, so the shore was already significantly clearer than it had been before the students went to work. We worked together for a while; some of us held trash bags, and the lucky few who were able to obtain gloves dug into the mud for trash. At first, I wondered how everyone would feel about digging around for trash in the mud, but the kids’ enthusiasm was infectious. I immediately gave up my vague hopes of keeping my clothes clean and joined in the fun.

Students didn't mind getting a little dirty to clean up their community

Students didn't mind getting a little dirty to clean up their community

By the time we left, the condition of the park was significantly improved. The students and volunteers looked tired and happy, and we were thrilled to see the results of our hard work. Instead of trash scattered along the ground, it was contained within numerous garbage bags we had filled, ready for pick up. Future visitors will now be able to enjoy the beautiful surroundings without trash marring their view, and the park environment will be more hospitable for plants and wildlife.

After a quick lunch, we reflected upon our experience participating in community service. Many of the students spoke about how much they liked having fun with their friends and helping the community at the same time. We explained to them that there are always opportunities to perform more community service, from picking up trash, to helping their friends, to tutoring. In order to recognize their enthusiasm and service, every student who attended received a certificate from PAIR.

PAIR mentors and students, who proudly display their certificates of service

PAIR mentors and students, who proudly display their certificates of service

At the end of the day, we enjoyed the fruits of our hard work by playing in the clean park. The beautiful bluebonnets and butterflies truly made the day picture-perfect.

I was extremely impressed by the excitement and enthusiasm our students showed for community service. Despite the struggles they have overcome and difficulties they continue to face, our students are eager to make a difference in their communities. Providing them with such opportunities to take action in the community and develop their leadership skills is crucial. I am glad that PAIR can take on this important role.

Among our goals for this trip, we hoped to engage our students and help the environment at the same time. I am happy to say that we succeeded. The park looked great when we left, and many of our students were energized by the day’s activities and spoke eagerly of getting involved in future community service. Who would have thought that picking up a little trash could make such a big difference?