Students at Lincoln West plant community garden, connect with Cleveland neighborhood
CLEVELAND - More than 50 students at Lincoln West in Cleveland got their hands dirty, planting vegetables and learning some important lessons about the environment. Students from kindergarten through third grade with the "Earth Explorers" program worked on a dozen box gardens in the school parking lot. The students represented all three schools housed within Lincoln West: the Community Wrap Around Academy, The Campus of International Studies and the School of Programming and Development. Community Wrap Around intervention specialist Natalee Castor told NewsChannel5 this is the third year for the garden planting program, an effort that helps students connect with the neighborhood. "It gives pride to the community, and what's nice is the community does come and work in the garden," explained Castor. "They've taken ownership and that's wonderful." Campus of International Studies Principal Julie Beers believes the garden program teaches young students to better understand the planet and our environment. "I hope that they realize they need to respect their environment so that when they walk by a beautiful flower garden they won't be inclined to pick it, but instead appreciate how beautiful it makes that neighborhood," said Beers. This isn't the first time students have volunteered to improve their west side neighborhood. Dozens of Lincoln West High School students took part in NewsChannel5's Building Better Neighborhoods massive street clean-up in Oct. 2012 . The students worked with volunteers from Rebuilding Together to clean up more than 15 homes on streets surrounding their school. Then on May 13, Lincoln West student volunteers teamed-up with Building Better Neighborhoods and Purple Heart Homes. The students helped to plant landscaping at the South Euclid home of a disabled veteran . Lincoln West Student Activities Director Danny Kelly told NewsChannel5 the volunteer programs activate students in their neighborhoods, and teach important lessons about teamwork. "If I was growing potato chips and Pepsi I'd have every kid out here, but we're not," explained Kelly. "But these kids get to know how to plant tomatoes and where they come from, and get their hands in the dirt, and they're having a good time. It's just something every kid should do really." 5 On Your Side is also trying to improve local neighborhoods through our Building Better Neighborhoods initiative. Residents can report vacant homes by sending us pictures and information on condemned properties in their neighborhoods, and we'll forward the information to your city building department in an effort to move the properties to progress. Information on how residents can volunteer in their neighborhoods can be found on the Building Better Neighborhoods Toolkit , or by contacting Hands on Northeast Ohio.