On April 19, a group of young Hermosa Beach artists will head over to Pier Avenue after the final school bell to distribute their winning anti-litter posters that will be displayed in windows of downtown businesses.
About 300 students entered into the anti-litter poster contest. The artists ranged from kindergarteners to eighth graders, and the best 10 designs were chosen.
The contest began last fall when students and teachers were looking for a way to support the proposed Styrofoam ban, and it was tied to a lesson in "ocean pollution solutions." Students had months to brainstorm and work on their designs.
The artwork focused on how litter harms animals and pollutes the oceans and beaches where kids want to play. A few students proposed that since April is Earth Month, residents should "be really nice to Mother Earth for her birthday," according to Project Manager Emily Gee, who represents Grades of Green.
The contest was cosponsored by the Hermosa Beach School District, South Bay nonprofit Grades of Green and Republic Services waste management. A panel of representatives from Grades of Green and Republic Services worked with the docents, who taught the anti-litter lessons, to select the winners.
Each winning student will distribute 10 copies of their sign to Pier Avenue businesses.
Gee said that by creating 10 different posters, residents and visitors will be encouraged to visit several stores searching for a glimpse at each poster.
Matt Bennett, public relations and events manager at the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce, thought it was a great way to get the children involved in the city.
"To have the business community help support and legitimize the winners and make them feel good about their accomplishment (is) a really nice thing," Bennett said. "They're going to walk around and meet some business owners. They're promoting their art projects. They're promoting anti-litter. It's all good messages."
The project has taught the children valuable environmental lessons, too.
"It's important to keep the beach clean because that's where animals live and we live there too," said first grader Reece Riley, whose poster shows sad dolphins and fish swimming amid garbage. "When you leave trash around, it goes into the storm drains and into the ocean, and that makes the fish sad."
Another winning design shows a rainy, trash-ridden beach alongside a clean, sunny beach. It was a collaborative effort between second grader Sofia Igloi and her friend Penny.
Her mother, Victoria Igloi, said the two talked during a play date about how sad they would feel if they had to live in trash. They were saddened by a bird whose neck was caught in plastic six-pack rings and wanted to show that bird in flight, living in both a clean and dirty environment. Each girl drew one side of the poster.
In addition to displaying the anti-litter posters in businesses, the winning students will present their artwork in a gallery format prior to the April 24 City Council meeting, and they'll receive a certificate from the city. The students will also speak to the Council about why it is important to keep litter off the streets and beaches.
PHOTO: Art by second grader Evelyn Shepphird of Hermosa View School.