Parenting

What are you doing to mark Earth Day?

Amy writes about Josh Cameron, a boy who organizes annual Earth Day park clean ups in Guelph, Ontario.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Cameron.

Ever heard of a preschooler spearheading a neigbhourhood park clean up? Here’s an inspiring story in honour of National Volunteer Week and Earth Day.

When he was four, Josh Cameron complained to his mom, Jennifer, about the garbage in their Guelph, Ontario neighbourhood park. “I told him if he didn’t like it, he had to do something about it,” says Jennifer. So, with a little help, Josh organized his first community park clean up.

Fast forward to Earth Day 2012. Josh is now 15 years old and this is his 12th annual Earth Day Community Park Clean Up. With years of experience, Josh now does all the planning himself — including sending press releases, creating flyers, arranging for garbage bags and gloves and inviting community politicians. (The mayor always shows up.) In fact, when Josh was seven, he invited David Suzuki to attend. Although Suzuki couldn’t make it, he sent Josh a two-page handwritten note commending his initiative.

Over the years, Josh and his team have retrieved shocking amounts of trash from the park creek — including an oil drum, pool liner and propane tanks. (This photo shows the garbage collected from last year’s clean up.) Sometimes, Josh needs his wheelchair to participate in the event. “It depends on how he’s feeling that day,” explains his mom.

Since Josh lives with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and his mobility varies day to day. This rare disorder causes frequent dislocations of joints such as the knees, wrists, hips and elbows. As well, Josh has Tourette’s syndrome. But his passion for the environment brings out the best in him. It gives him the confidence to speak in front of a crowd, recruiting volunteers for his yearly event. “He says it’s important to look after the neighbourhood,” says his mom.

Guess we all could learn a few things about volunteering, community and the environment from amazing kids like Josh. Is your family doing anything special to mark Earth Day?

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