Lakewood Middle School Students Make a Kid-Friendly Version of the City’s Sustainability Plan

by: Nora Bland, Sustainability Planning Intern, City of Lakewood

“This is the kind of class that you will remember for the rest of your lives” said principal Jen Kirksey, as she addressed students and parents at a meeting before the beginning of Dunstan’s “Sustainability Elective” class in August 2018. The class was the result of a partnership between the City of Lakewood and Dunstan Middle School with the goal of creating a kid-friendly version of the City’s Sustainability Plan. Image 1 above: Photo of Lakewood Sustainability Staff with Dunstan Middle School Class and their Plan)

“This was a natural partnership because the very core of sustainability is ensuring our decisions do not compromise the quality of life for future generations.” said Jonathan Wachtel, Sustainability Manager at the City of Lakewood. “We are excited to work with this generation and are eager to see what ideas, perspectives, and passion the students and their teachers will bring to the table.”

The class was taught by Audrey Hoffa, a science teacher at Dunstan who jumped at the opportunity to include sustainability in middle school curriculum. “As an educator, this project offered a unique experience.” said Hoffa. “It solidified my belief that students simply need an authentic learning platform to generate their unique ideas through writing and art. It was amazing to watch the student transformation from this perspective.” Image 2 below: Cover of the Lakewood Sustainability Plan for Kids

The 6-8th graders worked through each chapter of the Sustainability Plan to make it accessible for kids of all ages. In the introduction, they write: “We students at Dunstan Middle School are very concerned about the potential impacts that not sustaining our environment could have for the future of Colorado and the rest of the world. A singular kid can make a lasting impact on the world, and those of us in Ms. Hoffa’s class aim to be those kids.”

The class took field trips to experience the plan in action, like their trip to Carmody Recreation Center while they were working on the Plan’s chapter on energy, water and the built environment. Students were given a tour of the rec center’s recent energy- and water-efficient upgrades. In their plan, they wrote: “We imagine a future where Lakewood has more renewable energy and resource-efficient buildings.”

The end result is a plan written by kids, for kids. It’s full of photographs, illustrations, and ideas all developed by middle school students. Each chapter includes action steps for what kids can do to help with sustainability. For example, in the sustainable economy chapter, they advise: “Shop at local and small businesses, not chain restaurants and supermarkets.” In the transportation chapter, they encourage students to: “Get your parents not to run the car or leave it idling when they pick you up from school.” For their final project, the students created models of sustainable cities, which included elements from the plan that worked together to make a sustainable community. Image 3 aboveA page from the Climate Change and Adaptation Chapter

“It’s exciting to involve students in this process,” said Christy Cerrone, who works for the City of Lakewood in the Sustainability Division. “They are so invested and passionate about this project—you can feel their enthusiasm when you read the plan that they’ve written.”


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