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March 11, 2011 > Green Kids Conference-helping kids go green

Green Kids Conference-helping kids go green

By Alyson Whitaker
Photos By Shanti Balaraman

Last year, Fremont 5th grader Pavan Raj Gouda published a book called "Two Tales from a Kid." The book, composed of two stories he wrote, emphasizes the importance of being friendly-to others, and to our environment. He also founded a non-profit organization "Green Kids Now" (www.greenkidsnow.org), aimed at educating and inspiring kids to be more environmentally aware.

As Pavan has sought out organizations and conferences geared towards "thinking green," he realized that the majority of them are primarily commercial, rather than educational, and are targeted at adults, not kids. So he proposed to his mom Shanti Balaraman that they organize an educational conference specifically for kids. The first annual "Green Kids Conference" is scheduled for Saturday, June 18 at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View.

The four-hour conference is free of charge, and will include exhibitors from many different areas of the environmental arena, as well as live music and performances. All exhibitors are encouraged to bring their lessons and hands-on presentations down to kids' levels, making them easy to understand. In addition, local kids who have come up with innovative ideas to better the environment are encouraged to exhibit and share their ideas with attendees.

The goal of the conference is to educate kids and their families on environmental issues, share available resources and opportunities, and also to encourage, promote, and reward new and innovative ideas.

Pavan has had a busy year. In addition to the daily efforts of being a sixth-grade student, he continues to play an active role in the community trying to establish better waste management programs at schools within the Fremont Unified School District. Currently, only six out of 42 schools have a compost program in place. Pavan and his mom are working to bring compost bins to more schools within the district, increasing students' awareness and reducing waste. He met with FUSD Superintendent Dr. James Morris, who was receptive to the idea and asked for additional details regarding cost and implementation.

Pavan and his mom are researching and actively seeking grants and other funding sources to offset the start-up costs of bringing compost and recycling bins to schools and asking for volunteers at school sites to oversee the first year of changes to waste management. Their hope is that by funding start-up costs and offering staff support during the pilot year of the program, it will become sustainable due to reduced trash pick-up costs.

While Pavan sometimes gets discouraged by delays, he knows that small steps in the right direction are being made. He recently received an email from a woman in San Diego who came across a copy of his book and shared it with seven and eight-year olds on a volunteer trip to Ghana, West Africa. After listening to Pavan's ideas about the impact of pollution on a lake, one of the young boys held onto his trash, looking for a proper place to dispose of it, rather than tossing it on the ground. For Pavan, this is the greatest motivation. Even if just a few kids are inspired to think differently about their environment, he feels his efforts are worthwhile.

For more information on Green Kids Now, visit www.GreenKidsNow.org. To register for the Green Kids Conference, to sign up to be an exhibitor, or to view the conference agenda, go online to http://GreenKidsConference.org.

Green Kids Conference
Saturday, June 18
11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus, Building 1
1065 La Avenida, Mountain View
Attendance is free of charge, but advance registration is requested
http://GreenKidsConference.org.

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