2013 National Planning Excellence Awards: Grassroots Initiative

Cathedral City's Environmental Conservation Division (ECD) Kids & Community Program

Cathedral City, California

The Environmental Conservation Division (ECD) Kids & Community Program is an environmental education and awareness project where young people conceptualize, design, plan and create hands-on environmental projects that help reduce landfill waste and beautify the landscape of Cathedral City. The program's goals include making recycling and conservation fun, preserving the beauty of the local environment, and encouraging youth to play an active role in community efforts. It engages youth within the community and offers a way to learn about the environment while being part of the solution.

The Kids & Community Program has allowed government staff to acknowledge the presence of an untapped resource in the arena of environmental and community affairs, which is the under 18 category. City youth have replaced unsightly graffiti on the Dinah Shore Bridge with a stunning mural, created sculptures from trash, planted school and community gardens, launched anti-litter campaigns, and started their own recycling program. An estimated 750,000 tons of trash have been removed from the waste stream and Cathedral City exceeded its requirement to divert 50 percent of waste, instead, diverting 60 percent of waste on an annual basis.

S.C.R.A.P. works with kids at the Las Flores Apartment to give new life to an old fountain. The handmade flower tiles were made from recycle paper clay.