The river is for everyone, especially for kids!
This has been the theme of the River Kidz who since 2011 have been following their self-created mission: “to speak out, get involved and raise awareness because we believe kids should have a voice in the future of our rivers.”
As you may know, River Kidz is a grass-roots group that began with two 5th grade girls in the Town of Sewall’s Point and today includes hundreds of kids who attend local events, follow the Kidz on Facebook, and receive a monthly newsletter through their parent organization, the Rivers Coalition. Groups also sprouted up in St Lucie County and across the state in Lee County. These kids have had a great effect on water quality and St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon issues along our Treasure Coasts and statewide.
To help educate kids and parents, workbooks came out through a collaboration of adults and Kidz in 2013 focusing on the effects of releases from C-23, C-24, C-44 and discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
This year, in 2014, the Jensen Beach High School Marine II Honors Class of Mrs Crystal Lucas, reworked the workbook, really entirely redoing it, with more depth of ideas on the canal and Lake Okeechobee problems focusing on the story of Marty the Manatee and his friends and the steady destruction of the rivers over time. New artwork from artist Julia Kelly helps tell the story. The new workbook is more sophisticated and meets Sunshine and Core Standards and most important for the Martine II students, has a mascot to lead the little kids, “Marty the Manatee.” Yes, Marty is based on the student’s experiences with our local Indian Riverkeeper, Mr Marty Baum!
Due to teacher, Mrs Lucas, the Martine II students over a two-year period had exposure to speakers from the Army Corps of Engineers; South Florida Water Management District; and took field trips to Lake Okeechobee and to the Everglades Coalition meetings among other things. Their depth of study is reflected in the new workbooks. Many of these students will be returning from university for this fundraiser event and to “see” their work published.
The coolest thing of all is that the River Kidz Workbook, Second Edition, is a collaboration of kids teaching kids. The Martin County School District has supported this effort and the plan is to share the workbooks in each second grade classroom in the county. Other workbooks will be shared in other grades and in private and independent schools as well, but second grade is the primary focus.
The final books are not yet printed as the group is raising money. The total costs for around 6000 workbooks is around $10,000 dollars. The books are beautiful full color, around 35 pages, and come with a completion certificate that “makes each kid a River Kid.”
The River Kidz and Adultz overseeing the project are confident they can raise this money as the did for the first workbook. It must be noted that Southeastern Printing of Port Salerno and the Mader family, have made it possible to print these workbooks at a much lower cost.
We hope that you will attend the November 15th Fundraiser from 4-7PM at Bluewater Editions located at 4665 SE Dixie Highway, Port Salerno, and donate what you can. ALL ARE INVITED!!
We will be joined by artist/photographers Justin Riney, Julia Kelly, and Mike Hoffman. There will be food and drink, live music, games, artwork for sale, and the River Kidz trademark lemonade stand.
A penny; a dollar; ten; twenty or a thousand…When Marjorie Stoneman Douglas started “Friends of the Everglades” each student gave a quarter and this is what made the organization work– EVERYONE WAS PART! This is what we wish to recreate.
So give what you can and come! Put your money in the jar by the door! All who donate will be recognized and thanked. Giving something is more important than how much you give.
Fundraising aside, the River Kidz want everyone in the community to be a part of this grassroots effort to save our rivers. I am including some pages of the rough draft so you can see what is “around the corner,” and so you hopefully will be inspired to give.
For me, this project is the “best of the very best” of what will, and already is, creating a better future for our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)