I woke up and immediately knew what I wanted to do. It was a warm sunny day in May, a few years ago. I called my friend and told him to meet me at the park. I got ready excitedly and ran out the door. As I ran toward the park in our neighborhood, something felt different, but that may have been because I had just returned from being on vacation for a few weeks. My friend, who had just arrived at the park, also felt something was wrong. This park was usually full of people of all ages in the morning. Babies playing in the sandpit, a game of football in the field, or seniors taking a walk around the track. But not today. The first thing we noticed was the smell. I put my hand over my nose since the place stank of garbage. The entire park was littered with trash. There were trash bags everywhere, and the field was littered with bottles.
Littering can take a beautiful place and turn it into a garbage dump. A few weeks later the park remained unused, and nobody really did anything about it. The trash just kept piling up. Finally, it got to the point where someone had to do something. A senior in high school tried to address the problem with some others, but they soon figured out that it would take a lot more than three people to clean this park. She sent out an email to people in the neighborhood, but didn’t get many responses. However, they didn’t give up.
They tried again by sending out more emails, and many people made posters and put them up all around the area. This time they were extremely successful. Many people, including myself, signed up to help clean the park. After four days of work, the park was completely clean. But we had another step: preventing it from happening again. A person in our neighborhood created a fund to build a fence. Her idea was to have a fence around the park and for it to be locked after a certain time of night. This way, the people who used the park at night and left a ton of trash wouldn’t be able to litter. Also many signs were put up warning people not to litter. It took a little bit of time, but after many contributions, we solved the problem! Additionally, she knew a few people working for the DC Department of Parks and Recreation and asked them to help her. After a few weeks, they started building the fence. What I found amazing about this was how a great place could turn into a dump so quickly, and also how a community could come together to restore a neighborhood park.