Strong John Thomson DC Scores Students Join BID and NPS for Franklin Park Cleanup
By Ebony P. Walton
DowntownDC's largest green space, Franklin Park (13th & I streets NW), was recently overtaken by local third, fourth and fifth graders in a coordinated clean up effort organized by Strong John Thomson Elementary School for DC SCORES students as part of a service learning project.
Donning DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) hats and armed with E-Z Reachers and rakes, 26 students worked in teams on the afternoon of May 25 to clear debris and trash, collect recycling items, rake leaves, clean out the fountain and clear the area surrounding the statue of Commodore John Barry on the west side of the park.
Together, the students upped the ante with a challenge to see which team could fill their waste barrel first.
"People sleep here. We want to help them so they don’t have trash in the parks and the animals too,” third grader Eric Pineda said. “The birds have kids, baby birds, and we don’t want them to eat trash that will make them die."
The students' sweat equity did not go unnoticed. People in the park were pleased to see the young helpers at work and several commented on their efforts.
Strong John Thomson is a D.C. Public School located in the DowntownDC BID at 1200 L Street NW. Student Edwin penned a letter to the BID requesting their support and equipment for the cleanup project. DC SCORES is a holistic after school program.
James Pierce, National Park Service (NPS) Volunteer Coordinator, was on hand to share a bit of history about Franklin Park and the National Park Service with the students. "We hope the children will continue to be good stewards of the park and keep our green spaces clean,” Pierce said. He encouraged the students to #FindYourPark, the NPS movement to help the public discover national parks, which coincides with the centennial of NPS.
Participating students were led by members of the DowntownDC BID Safety/Hospitality and Maintenance team and learned first hand about how the BID employees maintain the park. Participating Maintenance ambassadors were Anthony Bourne, C'Na Robinson and Charles Stroud. Safety/Hospitality Ambassador Tyrell Thomas also supported the clean up.
BID Director of Public Space Operations Kristi Whitfield thanked the students for their efforts. Rachel Rose Hartman, BID director of interactive marketing and communications, told the students about the BID and upcoming events in the park. "One day this park will be activated with programming and great place for everyone to enjoy,” Hartman said.
The BID continues to partner with NPS, the District of Columbia government and additional entities to support the effort to renovate the park into an active, flexible space.
For more on the effort to redevelop Franklin Park, visit the BID's Franklin Park webpage at: http://www.downtowndc.org/go/franklin-park