On Thursday, October 11, 12-year old Kayla-Iman Clermont Hughes was awarded for her winning poster in the Poster Contest For Our Earth contest.
The Poster Contest For Our Earth asked Montclair children, 11 and under, to create a colorful poster specifically depicting the benefits of organic yard and lawn care that is free of toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Nicki Verrengia, Marketing Team Leader with Whole Foods Market Montclair says, “We think it is so great to get kids excited about living an organic lifestyle. They can totally get involved in taking care of the lawn and plants around their house! Whole Foods Market in Montclair was proud to be a part of the Safe Yards Poster Contest.”
With over 100 submissions from children as young at 5 years old, the winning poster by recently turned 12-year old Kayla-Iman Clermont Hughes was selected for its creativity and powerful message. “I am a nature person,”,explained Kayla. “I love dogs and I wanted to show an animal in a happy place. I couldn’t imagine an animal or a human feeling good anywhere filled with pesticides. It is just not right for us to breathe in poisons.”
Kayla wins a $50 gift certificate donated by Barista Kids to use at Watchung Booksellers, a $20 gift certificate to use at Whole Foods and her poster will be prominently hung at Whole Foods Market in Montclair for several months.
In attendance at the poster-hanging celebration were Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson and 4th ward Councilor Renee Baskerville, MD.
Mayor Jackson said, “Congratulations to Safe Yards Montclair and Whole Foods Montclair on a great contest and to Kayla on great work. I am thrilled to see our young people being stewards for the environment and for community health. I urge all Montclair residents, including me, to take heed of Kayla’s message and consider the impact of their own lawn care practices on their neighbors, the air we breathe and the water we drink.”
Councilwoman Baskerville added, “As a health care provider, I am impressed Kayla took the time to participate and is doing things to promote the environment. I am an advocate for more women being part of our STEM disciplines.”
“What we love about Kayla’s poster is the vision she creates for all of us; something concrete and beautiful we can aspire toward” explains Suzanne Aptman of Safe Yards Montclair.
Contest judges included Montclair Public Schools Health and Wellness Partnership Director Joanne Aidala, Partners For Health Foundation Program Officer Kathy Smith, Montclair’s Environmental Coordinator Gray Russell and members of Safe Yards Montclair. “The Montclair Public Schools Health and Wellness Partnership is happy to join with Whole Foods and Safe Yards Montclair to judge the poster contest,” explains Joanne Aidala. “From our perspective, it is important for children to understand the risks to their health from toxic chemicals and the effects of those chemicals on our food supply.”
“It is exciting to get kids to express themselves, but especially something that helps kids to connect with the living world around them. So the things we spray on our lawns affect not just us, but everything from butterflies to birds to waterways”, explains Gray Russell the town’s Environmental Coordinator. “We recently launched a campaign in Montclair” he adds, “called Its in Our Power, to help the community see how the actions they take affect the world around them.”
“Small kids can have great insights into big truths. And they have endless energy for expressing their thoughts creatively”, says Chrissie Hines of Safe Yards Montclair. “What better way to show us adults how to care for the earth than through their drawings.”
Safe Yards Montclair hopes to make the Poster Contest for Our Earth an annual event for Montclair children. You can also join other Montclair residents and put a pesticide-free zone ladybug sign on your front yard pledging your support for yards that are safe for kids to play, bees to buzz, and birds to peck. Find an organic landscaper. Learn more at www.SafeYardsMontclair.org