Sanika Datar, 12, of Kirkland, Washington, a seventh-grader at Environmental & Adventure School, celebrated Earth Day last year by conducting activities in her backyard to acquaint neighborhood preschoolers with things they can do to help take care of the planet’s natural environment. She also helped plant trees and rid trails of poison ivy in her area. “Community stewardship projects in my school have instilled a passion in me to do more environmental work and to be an advocate to make our community better,” said Sanika. So last Earth Day, she decided to host a group of her younger sister’s friends and lead them through some fun, yet educational, activities.
Her first activity for the children was to make eco-friendly sidewalk paint by using cornstarch and water. After the kids painted the sidewalk, she took them on a scavenger hunt in a nearby park to find recyclable items, and then explained to the children how to properly recycle them. After she read the group a book about taking care of the Earth, she gave them a hands-on project to recycle different categories of items. Sanika had so much fun that she sought other environmental volunteer opportunities. She helped plant trees, volunteered to build signs providing information about native plants, and helped clean up poison ivy growing around a popular hiking trail. “We need to live by the message: ‘Leave this world a little better than you found it,’” said Sanika.