After a year in which distance learning became standard, thousands of elementary and middle school students across California join together virtually to send a message about taking care of the ocean, as the culmination of the 27th Annual Kids Ocean Day Program.
The annual in-person event at beaches shifted to online presentations this year due to the pandemic, with more than 4,500 students learning about how they are personally connected to their watershed and the ocean. But on Tuesday, June 8, students launched an online art mosaic that communicates what the ocean means to all of us.
“We’re proud of the participating schools and teachers for incorporating this program into their lesson plans,” said Aura Garcia, vice president of the Los Angeles Department of Public Works board.
“It’s never too early to start teaching students the value of conserving resources, recycling and reducing the use of plastics to keep our local rivers, creeks and ocean clean. And through art, our young people share a collective voice in sending out a message to protect our oceans,” Garcia said.
In a typical year, Kids Ocean Day coordinators in five cities up and down the coast would host in-school presentations, which would be followed by a beach cleanup, and would culminate with the students forming a work of aerial art to help send a message about the need for clean beaches.
This year, instead of a student-led aerial art formation, students who attended an online classroom presentation were encouraged to create and submit an original artwork illustrating what they love about the ocean to the 2021 Kids Ocean Day Art Contest.
Sophia Meza, a third-grade student at Nestle Avenue Charter Elementary School in Tarzana, had one of the five winning entries. She and her teacher Jill Sethi will receive either gift cards or other prizes.
“While we have not been able to gather students for in-person school assemblies or a beach cleanup this year, our mission to educate young people continues,” said Michael Klubock, founder of the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education and the annual Kids Ocean Day event.
“We are thankful we can still get the message out to elementary students online that they have the power to make a positive difference every day in keeping our environment clean.”