TEACHING KIDS TO CARE
Twice a year, we at DoubleTree Beach Resort by Hilton teams up with our adopted school, M.K. Rawlings Elementary in Pinellas Park, FL, with a corporate-wide DoubleTree program called “Teaching Kids to CARE”. Each spring and fall, we have a special lesson plan to teach to the students, which usually involves going “green” with recycling efforts, planting trees for Earth Day, or donating food to less fortunate around the holidays.
For Global Month of Service in October 2016, we scheduled several activities to allow everyone the opportunity to give back to our community. With that in mind, it made sense for us to schedule our Teaching Kids to CARE program in early October. Some of our team members, our beloved DoubleTree Cookie and our partners from Keep Pinellas Beautiful, our local chapter of Keep America Beautiful, joined forces to teach 125 first graders all about the life-cycle of garbage. Our “Trash Talk” was quite a success! We were excited to be the first to expose these children to the 3 “R’s”; Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! We explained to the students that each one of us creates about one small garbage bag of trash each day. We brought in some clean “Trash” and the students were each invited to pick one item.Then, one by one, we talked about what each piece of garbage does in the environment. We asked the students, “Trash or recycling?” and as we went through each item we asked questions, “Can we reuse that shirt? Can we reuse that shopping bag?” Each student had their moment to show their “Trash” to the group and place it in the recycling bin or the trash bin. They were intrigued by the bag of black soil we brought in, especially when we explained how it was compost made from eggshells, coffee grounds and banana peels. The students were fascinated! Some were excited to share their own experiences with composting in their family garden. At the end of the lesson, the students were surprised to see how all but one Styrofoam cup could be reused, recycled or composted. We then encouraged the students to use reusable cups instead of Styrofoam for that very reason!
Below is the Friendship Bench we helped purchase for Rawlings Elementary in 2015, which is from the “Tiny Girl Big Dream” Foundation!
The new Friendship Bench has a permanent home in the school’s Teaching Kids to CARE Garden. Take a look at some of the amazing photos that were taken during our visit! We look forward to returning to the school in the fall to paint the different words of kindness on the Friendship Bench, as well as seeing all the future students who will learn the valuable concepts that this Friendship Bench represents!
Here’s a picture of the Friendship Bench, complete with all the words of kindness and encouragement that the students chose:
We celebrated Global Week of Service in October 2014 with all 130 2nd grade students at M.K. Rawlings Elementary School along with one of favorite our community partners, Suncoast Seacoast Sanctuary. Ralph Heath, founder of the nearby Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, brought a baby seabird to show our students, along with real examples of how proper recycling can make a difference by keeping harmful materials out of the reach of animals, humans and seabirds! We followed up with the same group of 2nd grade students for the “Clean up the Community” Follow-up Lesson in November to see how much they’d learned from our previous visit.
In Spring 2014, we teamed up with the 3rd graders at M.K. Rawlings Elementary with our “Grow a Garden” lesson plan! As always, our Teaching Kids to CARE team works hard to make our lessons meaningful to our local community. Since Florida is a great source of locally grown produce, meat and seafood, we had a lot to talk about! It was amazing to see how much the 3rd grade students already knew about this topic.
Our Executive Chef spent time asking the students what foods they enjoy eating and talked about how he makes the food in our restaurant taste great by sourcing ingredients from nearby sources, which cuts down on carbon emissions from delivery vehicles & supports local farmers and fisheries. He also passed around examples of fresh cut herbs for the students to experience with their 5 senses as we discussed how herbs grown in our own gardens can make the foods we eat taste spectacular! Finally, we helped our students plant herb gardens of their own from seeds (using recycled milk containers they saved from their lunches) and we left each teacher with a potted herb garden to grow in the classroom. At the end of each lesson, we shared our “cookie care” by leaving all 120 student and teachers our favorite treat… a delicious chocolate chip cookie!