Students pitching in to clean up river bank

There’s an old saying about how a little child shall lead them.
And perhaps it’s time some people took the lead from our younger citizens and thought twice before dumping their garbage along the banks of the beautiful Rainy River.
Last week, a group of Grade 5 and 6 students from Donald Young School in Emo spent the better part of Thursday morning combing the river bank for evidence that some people really are ignorant, insensitive, and inconsiderate.
They didn’t have to look hard for proof.
Apart from tires (which were far too heavy for them), the students came away with plastic wrappers and bottles, bits of rusting metal that may have been there for years, and a number of other disgusting-looking things that probably are best left unidentified.
There also was a disturbing number of broken bottles and other glass items the students were instructed not to touch for safety reasons.
The idea behind the effort came from the Rainy River First Nations Watershed Program, which, according to project officer Catherine Warren, sent invitations to a number of district schools between Devlin and Rainy River.
“We sent out a fax to the schools and these are the folks who were interested,” said Warren as she prepared a barbecue lunch for the hungry volunteers.
In addition to DYS, Crossroads (Devlin), Riverview (Rainy River), and Our Lady of the Way (Stratton) answered the call to help rehabilitate the once-pristine environment of the Rainy River.
These schools are sending—or will send—at least one class out to pick up after people who, although older, are obviously less mature.
“It’s all part of the ‘Adopt a River’ plan, which is going on all over the province,” noted Warren.
The program has been going on for several years, but this is just the second year DYS has been involved, noted special education teacher Josephine Leonard, who chaperoned the kids and helped co-ordinate the clean-up activities.
It wasn’t all work and no play, however. After the garbage was collected and trucked away, the children had time to roll in the autumn leaves and play on the recreational equipment at the Emo waterfront while Warren fired up the barbecue pit.
That idea, she said, was part of the deal to get the children to sign on. “We’ve provided an extra incentive to the school,” she said.
Warren noted with appreciation that the barbecue was made possible because of a $150 donation from the North Western Ontario Tourism Association.