Fifth-grader Anahi Carranza of the Vaughn Next Century Learning Center shows her winning Kids Ocean Day entry to event founder Michael Klublock.

A day at the beach for kids normally involves building sandcastles, scooping up shells, racing the tide along the shore and perhaps paddling out with a surf or boogie board to ride waves.

But for the nearly 3,500 students, teachers and volunteers from all over the city of Los Angeles and the Valley, who recently spent a day at the Dockweiler State Beach, there was more to the trip than just having fun. It was about making an impact and sending a message.

The large contingency, participating in the 22nd annual Kids Ocean Day on May 14, helped to clean up the beach and then form a large aerial design of a fish inspired from a drawing by contest winner Anahi Carranza, a fifth-grader at the Vaughn Next Century Learning Center in San Fernando.

The cleanup was the impact the kids, teachers and volunteers had on the beach. The message: that litter and pollution cause serious damage to our oceans and other bodies of water, and they need public diligence and protection.

“Kids are often our motivation to pattern good behavior,” said Monica Rodriguez, City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works Vice President. “They are our greatest, unfiltered reminder of how we must do everything to protect our natural resources, including our local waterways and the ocean. It’s their optimism and enthusiasm that inspires the continued innovation we must employ to preserve our greatest assets.”

Kids Ocean Day in Los Angeles was organized by the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education, the California Coastal Commission, the City of Los Angeles, Keep Los Angeles Beautiful and Spectral Q. It has grown into an annual gathering at designated beaches that includes composting, recycling and an overall reduction of non-biodegradable materials.

The actual day is the culmination of a year-round school assembly program by the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education to teach Los Angeles school kids about the adverse impacts of pollution to the ocean. The City of LA helps with the recycling and composting of all beach debris and lunch refuse. Other supporters, including Waste Management and Whole Foods, also contribute to the program.

“The oceans are dying and the kids know it,” said Kids Ocean Day founder and director Michael Klubock. “Most of them already know that the trash on the street ends up in the ocean. Kids Ocean Day helps make them aware that they can have an impact. It expands their world when they learn that they can do something to protect the ocean they love.”

To learn more about Kids Ocean Day, visit www.kidsoceanday.org.

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