Freshwater Future, Clean Water For All, The Junction Coalition Host Youth Canoe Camp
Freshwater Future in partnership with The Junction Coalition, held a week-long Youth Water Camp in Toledo, Ohio. Youth ages 10-18 from around the Great Lakes Region canoed the Maumee River, and later fellowshipped to learn about Harmful Algal Bloom and water policy education. The event was sponsored by several organizations and community leaders from across the region, including the Flint Development Center, We the People of Detroit, the Wilderness Inquiry who provided the canoeing experience, and the Clean Water For All Campaign in Washington D.C.
The retreat resulted from an earlier meeting when many of the youth leaders met with Environmental Justice Advocate and former head of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice Mustafa Santiago Ali during the recent Healing Our Water Conference. The youth spoke about environmental justice, mentorship, and career opportunities. They all wanted to reconvene to further discuss water and public health.
“Teaching youth not only about the importance of water quality, but how it impacts the region and the Great Lakes is so important” says Latia Leonard, Urban Program Associate for Freshwater Future. In addition to algae education, the youth also visited a local rain garden, where they learned about sustainability practices, the importance of rain gardens, and how to maintain them. Many of the youth also shared their thoughts about the water issues around the Great Lakes region. Thirteen-year-old Isaiash Everett of Toledo shared his concerns “There’s more going on than what we see. Like people know now how the water got messed in Flint got messed up”. Keoindre Wright, 14, also of Toledo, expressed needing more youth involved in water issues. “Not everybody agree(s) that young people should be involved because of their age and maturity, but young people should be involved so we can know what’s going on” The youth leaders will continue to connect with each other over the summer, with plans to meet later around activities in Flint and Detroit.