BARNEGAT – Making a difference can start with just one person; or perhaps, one street. Spearheaded by two Barnegat students, the “Adopt a Street” program has been cleaning up township streets to create a more eco-friendly town, one street at a time.
At the July 2 township committee meeting, Barnegat students Norah Hansen and Jenna Marcy detailed their plan to clean up Barnegat with “Adopt A Street,” with the help of Lillian M. Dunfee School Counselor Michele Cucinotta. Hansen and Marcy are both incoming freshmen at Barnegat High School.
Hansen opened up the presentation with an alarming statistic: “Did you know that around 93 percent of the world’s children under 15 years old breathe air that is so polluted that it puts their health and development in danger?”
She cited the World Health Organization which estimates that 600,000 children died of respiratory diseases in 2016, all due to polluted air. These figures inspired Hansen and Marcy to make a change for the better.
“Each street cleaned in Barnegat is another step in the right direction,” said Hansen.
Adopt A Street is intended to bring the local community together for the greater good. The program allows residents of any age to apply to “adopt” a segment of a street or the whole street. Minors must obtain parental approval to do this. Once a street is adopted, community members commit to one year of trash clean up on their adopted street, performed three times a year.
“The idea is to preserve the overall appearance of Barnegat,” as well as improve the quality of life for all generations, stated Hansen and Marcy.
Marcy outlined some of the requirements for volunteers in the program, including:
- Volunteers must wear safety vests so cars can see them
- Minors must be accompanied by a responsible adult
- Cleaning is only allowed during daytime hours
- Volunteers cannot obstruct sidewalks or traffic cones while cleaning
“And finally, if volunteers find any suspicious items, they need to alert authorities,” Marcy added.
The program welcomes all volunteers including children, their parents, local businesses, and NHS (National Honor Society) students.
While Hansen and Marcy are moving up to the high school come September, they have recruited Cucinotta to help continue the program “for years to come.”
“Although we are only one town and people are only cleaning one street at a time, its still bags of garbage that does not end up in our ocean,” said Hansen.
The students’ presentation was well received by attendees at the township meeting. They received a big round of applause and even some questions from local residents.
The program was kicked off just after Earth Day this year. Since then, the students have managed to clean Gunning River Road, Barnegat Boulevard from Walgreens to Gunning River Road, and the Bay Beach.
Hansen and Marcy closed their presentation with a call for service from the township.
“We would like the town to put up signs on adopted streets and commit to picking up trash collected after clean ups,” as well as supply vests, gloves, and garbage bags, said Hansen.
Barnegat Police will also be notified of the date and location of any cleanups as well as assist in removing any suspicious or dangerous materials.
Now that the program is off to a good start, what’s next?
According to Marcy, the next task to tackle is spreading awareness and getting more members of the community involved in cleaning up Barnegat.