By Miranda Brown

To celebrate Kids Ocean Day on May 24, more than 1.300 students from underserved schools across Orange County will spend the day removing trash from the sand at Huntington State Beach. Afterward, the group will have its photo taken from hundreds of feet above as they gather to form a wave shape and the slogan “Make Waves.”

The statewide Kids Ocean Day celebration reaches children in underserved and inland schools without access to California’s beaches. By educating students on the connection of natural spaces, the annual program empowers the next generation of advocates to care for the region’s environment.

“Kids Ocean Day allows students who have grown up without access to the beach to interact and have a meaningful experience with the coastal environment, instilling in them a sense of stewardship,” said Dyana Peña, Coastkeeper’s educational director. “This year’s aerial artwork message, ‘Make Waves,’ shows that young people have the power to improve inland and coastal communities by protecting the health of the region’s waters.”

Kids Ocean Day is part of the California Coastal Commission’s Adopt-A-Beach School Assembly Program, a series of assemblies that teach students the connection between urban neighborhoods and oceans through storm drains. These lessons show students the importance of recycling and litter reduction to protect the environment. In addition to the cleanup happening in Orange County, similar events will take place at five other beaches in cities along the California coast including San Diego, Humboldt and San Francisco.

“Children are the wave of the future,” said Jack Ainsworth, executive director of the California Coastal Commission. “And these kids understand that we need to change our consumption and disposal habits and reduce our reliance on single use plastics, so the beaches and ocean don’t keep suffering from plastic pollution. I’m proud of all these students for making some waves.”

Students will clean up Huntington State Beach beginning at 9 a.m., then gather for the aerial art creation at 11 a.m. For the rest of the afternoon, students will enjoy fun in the sun and waves to appreciate the coastal environment.

To register as a volunteer for Kids Ocean Day, please contact Peña at dyana@coastkeeper.org.

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