Tatem Middle School Green KidsGreen Kids: From trash to treasure

By Rowan Hallett

All you need is a little creativity, some basic tools and a lot of enthusiasm to turn something that’s destined for the dumpster into a gift for the community. Fortunately, a team of four kids from the TN Tatem Middle School has an abundance of those resources. Morgan McKinnon Burgess, Deshale Lewis, Nicholas Mello and Joshua Deallia, along with their Advisory Club Director, Paul Harney, are working together to convert deteriorating wooden lunch benches into raised flowerbeds for the elderly at the Lorraine Rest Home.


Paul established the relationship between the school and the rest home in mid-2008 with the goal of fostering healthy youth and adult partnerships. ‘I met the Lorraine Rest Home Executive, Mrs Jennifer Gibson, who was excited to have the children come up once a week to interact with the residents,’ he explained. ‘During the course of our conversation, Mrs Gibson shared that someone had mentioned the idea of a square-foot garden but she had no one to execute and actualise the project. I decided to approach the students, who later agreed.’


Morgan jokes about the hazards of the jobMorgan is excited about the ‘green’ aspect of the task: ‘This project is the perfect way to recycle – we can’t use these picnic tables anymore because they’re rotting, so now we’re going to use them to make flowerbeds, and the rotting wood will help the soil.’ Teammate Nicholas agreed, ‘It gives us something useful to do with these old benches, rather than burn them.’


The green kids took on the tasks of collecting and dismantling the benches, sorting the usable material and taking it to the rest home. Even though Joshua wasn’t that enthusiastic to begin with, he admits, ‘It was fun, especially the part where we took the benches apart with tools.’


Their next tasks were to construct the flowerbeds and begin planting. This portion of the project took place at the Lorraine Rest Home, with the aim of encouraging the youth and the elderly to bond through working together. Deshale said of the project, ‘I think it’s a really good thing. Those people wouldn’t be able to do it for themselves, so we’re helping.’


Green kids load up the vanSuccessful completion of the project includes involvement from other community partners to supply soil and seedlings, resulting in three raised flowerbeds for the residents of the Lorraine Rest Home. ‘I realised over the weeks of visits to the rest home that many residents would not be comfortable bending or kneeling down to garden, so I came up with the idea of raised beds to avoid this problem,’ said Paul.


Paul is an active member of Bermuda’s community and is always looking for innovative ways to stimulate healthy, respectful relationships between youth and adults. This will help rebuild that sense of community that he believes is slowly deteriorating, and which is such a vital part of Bermuda’s culture and character. However, he recognises that it wouldn’t be possible at all without the kids. Paul commends his team and thanks them for all of their hard work every day they meet. Children are one of the greatest resources for sustainability; they have an unending supply of energy and creativity, and often see treasure where adults see trash.

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