But there are other benefits: the kids pick up trash and learn lessons about littering.
Knight, who runs All In R Family Child Care out of her home, got the idea about 10 months ago to help the kids gain more exercise by picking up trash around Antioch. She’s hoping the effort will spark a grassroots movement.
The kids are spreading the word. They’re telling their friends and their family,” Knight said. “We’re starting small, but we can get the word out.”
Recently, Knight took the kids to Delta Fair Boulevard, where they picked up buckets of trash near bus stops. The children say that picking up candy wrappers and pizza boxes from the ground has changed their view. The kids have been shocked to see people walk or drive by piles of garbage.
“A fifth-grader at my school was drinking a Capri Sun, and then he just threw it on the ground right behind the bench, and I saw him,” said Sutter Elementary fourth-grader Harmonee Brumwell. “I told him, ‘You shouldn’t be littering because it’s bad,’ and then I went to go put it in the garbage.”
The kids, along with Knight, take gloves and tongs to pick up waste, putting it into a cart with a sign that reads “Care … Don’t Litter.” She hopes the experience will increase the kids’ appreciation for their surroundings. Knight loves seeing the looks on their faces after a job well done. She also believes the excursions have helped the kids get in better shape.
“It’s wonderful,” Knight said. “When we’re done … I tell them to step back and look, and they go ‘Wow.’ And then they get ice cream.”
Knight, who has been involved with various cleanup efforts in Antioch over the years, wants to expand her program to high school students. She’s working with Antioch High School to get students out to work community service hours by picking up litter. Antioch seniors need at least 10 hours of community service in order to graduate, and Knight feels that by cleaning up trash, high school students will become diligent about disposing waste responsibly.
Antioch City Councilwoman Mary Rocha, whose son Louie is the Antioch High principal, appreciates Knight’s efforts and considers them a viable project for high school students seeking community service hours. Rocha noted that since the young people would hear the message from their friends and classmates – not adults – it might be an especially effective way of teaching them to stop littering.
“We have been asking the community to step up and help us out,” Rocha said. “The community belongs to the people that live here. If they’re going to turn their back on the trash that’s in the neighborhood, that’s their choice. But they could pitch in and pick up that garbage.”