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Youth Making Waves

2019 was a big year for youth climate activism. By taking inspiration from Greta Thunberg and other young leaders, and channeling their deep concerns for the future of our planet, young Baltimoreans have been thinking globally while taking action locally. These are just a few of Blue Water Baltimore’s young advocates making waves.

Joe with Jenn Aiosa, Executive Director.

Joe Dubaj, a 5th-grade student at Thomas Johnson Elementary Middle School in south Baltimore, took a courageous approach to raising money for his school fees. Instead of participating in the school-wide candy sale fundraiser, Joe asked his friends, family, and neighbors to sponsor him as he collected trash in his harborside neighborhood. Joe doubled the amount he needed for his fees, and donated half to Blue Water Baltimore in solidarity with his mission to protect the environment in his neighborhood. We hope more people (of all ages) will be inspired by Joe!

The O’Neill family donut sale fundraiser has been a staple of their Parkville neighborhood for a decade, helping to fund community needs from healthcare to scholarships. But for their tenth annual fundraiser, kids Jaclyn and Chris decided to dedicate their funds and education efforts to Blue Water Baltimore. An avid swimmer, Jaclyn has been worried about the future of our environment; she would love to one day be able to swim locally the way she has on tropical vacations. On a chilly Sunday morning in November, the whole family got up early to set up games, hot chocolate and coffee, and yes, dozens and dozens of donuts. All morning, friends, neighbors, and family members flocked to their yard to enjoy breakfast together and learn about how they can help protect and restore our waterways. At the end of the day, Jaclyn and Chris sat down together to carefully count all the bills and change before making a thousand-dollar donation to our mission.

The O’Neill family.

In December 2019, a student at the Bryn Mawr School reached out to Blue Water Baltimore to restart a project she had developed to give out free reusable bags at grocery stores. Now a high school junior, Eva Mammen wanted to reconnect with us on her “Bring it for the Bay” project and also offered to raise money for Blue Water Baltimore. We enthusiastically agreed, and Eva jumped right in — literally.

Eva raised over $1,500 for Blue Water by taking part in the Polar Bear Plunge and jumped into the icy Potomac in January to demonstrate her commitment to clean water. After that, she worked with her school to donate the proceeds from a school dance. And she didn’t just raise money; Eva also published a letter to the editor in the Baltimore Sun about the city’s plastic bag ban, participated in meetings at the Office of Sustainability about reusable bag distribution efforts, and facilitated an outreach event to gain input on reusable bag preferences.

We are so grateful to Eva and young water advocates like her who use their skills and passion to support our work!

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