A Drawing for the Beach

The City of San Fernando is 35 miles away from Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey. But next week they will be united.

On May 14th, a drawing made by 10-year-old Anahi Carranza, a 5th grader at the Vaughn Next Century Learning Center in San Fernando, will be replicated on a large scale as part of the Malibu Foundation’s Kids Ocean Day.

Her drawing of an aqua-colored fish with red lips and eyes was chosen from among hundreds of entries from at least 20 different schools around Los Angeles.

“I made it that way because I was looking at a clown fish. It was my brother who helped me,” said Carranza, a Sylmar resident.

This was the first time she participated in the annual contest, which is part of Kid Ocean Day, a combination of beach cleanup and education meant to show kids the importance of keeping the ocean free of trash.

“I was very excited when I learned I had won and I feel honored,” Carranza said.

She said she hopes her drawing sends a message to her peers of how important it is to help the ocean and keep the beach clean, adding, “It’s important to clean up the community, too.”

That’s exactly the message the Malibu Foundation tries to instill in kids, and the public in general, with their annual Kids Ocean Day. Part beach clean-up, part artistic endeavor, the event attracts nearly 3,500 children and teachers from 20 schools throughout Los Angeles, as well as volunteers for a day at Dockweiler Beach.

This will be the 22nd annual Kids Ocean Day.

“We like Dockweiler State Beach because it’s big, the parking lots are big and its fairly centrally located to service all the schools from the Valley, South Central, and Compton,” explained Michael Klubock, founder of the Malibu Foundation and Kids Ocean Day.

It’s also a beach that is not heavily populated on a regular day, Klubock pointed out, which allows for easier monitoring of the hundreds of kids that roam its shores of this event, cleaning up debris and pieces of trash trapped under the sand.

The foundation’s mission is to work toward a sustainable and healthy planet by motivating kids into action. Kids Ocean Day is sponsored by the City of Los Angeles Stormwater Program, a project of the Bureau of Sanitation and The City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works, as well as the California Coastal Commission, Keep LA Beautiful, Spectral Q and others.

Every year, Klubock and volunteers head to elementary schools to presenta slide show program that starts with images of happy ocean animals that later turn into pictures of those animals tangled up in trash, ending with an exposition of the drains and how everything that we throw there ends up in the ocean.

“It’s all done to show how [trash]  impacts the beach and the animals, how it harms the animals and the ocean,” said Klubock said.

Drawing Contest

Another component of the event is the drawing contest, where kids at the different participating schools are encouraged to show their artistic abilities around a specific theme.

This year’s theme is “Unite For The Ocean,” and kids were asked to draw their best fish.

Carranza’s drawing was the winner, and it will be reproduced 20 times it’s size on Dockweiler Beach, using ropes and cardboard tubes by an artist. Aerial photographs will be taken of the this “school of fish” with the words “Unite For The Ocean” underneath.

“Her drawing was simple and elegant, but there was something in the eyes and lips that gave it some movement,” said Klubock, on why Carranza’s drawing was chosen as the winning entry.

Alejandro Nevarez, Carranza’s teacher, describes her as a “very bright student, very thoughtful, very shy, and very creative. She’s always helping other students in the classroom.”

When the announcement was made that she had won the entire classroom cheered, giving Carranza a standing ovation.

Nevarez added that 75 students from Vaughn Next Century Learning Center will be going to the beach this year to take part in the event. For many students, it will be the first time they see the ocean.

“It’s going to be an experience that I think the students will remember for a long time,” he said. “Hopefully it inspires students to participate and take action.”

A Powerful Message

The message Klubock and the foundation hope the kids take away from this day of fun is that the ocean is sick from the pollution that we humans produce, and it needs all of us to unite behind its wellbeing.

This is especially important because 13 percent of the kids participating in this year’s event have never seen the Pacific Ocean despite how close it is geographically.

“The takeaway for the kids is this discovery,” Klubock said. “They say ‘I thought the beach was clean,’ and now they’re getting to realize that there’s a lot of little pieces of trash under the sand. The kids get their fingers under the sand and that becomes that ‘wow’ moment, the moment of discovery.

“They get that connection that their action that day of picking up trash helps an animal. That what they do makes an impact; that if they use a paper cup it ends up on the beach and in the ocean. They get to see how they’re part of the waste stream. It’s not that they’re a bad person, they simply are unaware of their actions.”

Klubock hopes that hands-on interaction with the beach and the oceans makes a life-long impact on the participating kids, encouraging them to recycle and take care of the ocean for future generations. Since 1991, the Malibu Foundation’s Adopt-A-Beach School Assembly Program has been seen by more than 680,000 California school children. More than 125,000 children from the program have participated in Kids Ocean Day.