Young volunteers make a clean sweep Playground spruced up on Youth Service Day

April 16, 1997|By William E. Thompson Jr. | William E. Thompson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Volunteering can be hard work, as some young people in Baltimore found out yesterday.

Twenty members of Mary Webb's sixth-grade math class at Harlem Park Middle School took advantage of warm, sunny weather to clean the school's playground and basketball court. Most pushed brooms bigger than they were to sweep mounds of broken glass, while others raked areas around trees or held trash bags for the sweepers.

The children were among many around the country participating in National Youth Service Day, an annual event designed to promote community service and voluntarism among young people.

Youth Service America, a nonprofit group based in Washington, sponsored the event, now in its ninth year. The event spotlights National Volunteer Week, which runs through Sunday.

In the Baltimore area, young people busily pursued a variety of tasks, including cleaning playgrounds and parks, visiting the elderly and helping feed homeless children. Webb's students captured the spirit of the day.

Their effort was the first step in a rejuvenation project that will conclude in June with a community-built playground between Harlem Park's middle and elementary schools.

Webb said this was the second year she had a class participate in the annual volunteer project.

"I try to get them involved in any meaningful project I hear about," she said. She added that more students would have been involved, but seventh- and eighth-graders were preparing for a statewide test.

Several of Webb's students said making their school look better made them feel good and that this effort helped teach them the value of teamwork.

"I learned that we should always keep the community clean, help somebody else out and not be so selfish. We're all helping each other," said Anthony Golden, 11.

One girl said she enjoyed participating, but the project had an extra incentive for her.

"You can help people, but it's also good to get out of school," Denika Ruth, 12.

Pub Date: 4/16/97

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