Public parks and playgrounds are essential

by the Bethel ALPAR Youth Litter Patrol Team

Our ALPAR Youth Litter Patrol’s mission is to help keep our community clean throughout the summer months and environmentally educated, increase community awareness along with ONC’s Environmental Recycling Program, earn leadership, mentorship and stewardship recognition while serving as Youth Leaders among their peers. The main focus  of our ALPAR Youth led program is on learning and sharing best practices about pollution prevention & recycling skills while mentoring the community about working together. We would also like to express our gratitude for receiving a couple grants to help support the mission of our ALPAR Youth Litter Patrol Program in which we received funding from the City of Bethel’s 2022 Community Action Grant in the amount of $8,422 and ALPAR 2022 Coca-Cola in the amount of $1,500. which is enough to help employ 10 young students between the ages of 14 to 17 years old. 

We have 8 more positions open and are recruiting youth who are interested in serving as leaders among their peers while working towards bringing about positive and healthy environmental changes with the Bethel community through planned creative approaches. So far, we have met with the YK-Fitness Center, the Bethel 4H Youth Club, and others. Our youth will be working in different places picking up litter and strongly encourage everyone to help pick up litter from their yards and nearby curbs adjacent to their parking lots. We plan on carrying out a Recycling Contest and a Neighborhood Summer Greenup Cleanup Contest. Keep a lookout for our flyers! -Mary C. Herrera-Matthias, ONC Environmental Program Coordinator

A Word From Our ALPAR Youth Litter Patrol

Hello, my name is Lacey Samuelson, my Yup’ik name is Nurrung originating from Mekoryuk, Alaska. I am the daughter of Gertrude Finch and Billy Samuelson, half of my family is from upriver Kalskag and Aniak, and the other half is from Mekoryuk located on Nunivak Island. I am going to be a freshman at Bethel Regional High School and I am 14 years old. I currently work at ONC with the Alpar litter patrol team. What I’ve learned working with the Alpar team is how to sort out recyclables and that when recycling we are helping out the environment. I have also learned that when we go berry picking or if we’re even just taking a walk outside we are in someone else’s home. When I say “someone” else’s home’’ I mean an animal that lives in that space or area. If you leave trash in the area that you are in you are basically making a mess in their home, so please don’t leave your trash outdoors.

The Most Neglected Park in Bethel

Little Park was a place of amusement and a place to have fun, but over the years it has become much neglected. When people see the park now, they choose to ignore it. This establishment has many pathways or what many people like to call “shortcuts”. These “shortcuts” are used by many children along with some adults that live in the surrounding area, whether you’re trying to go to AC Quick or you just need to get somewhere fast enough. You are still passing by the Little Park. When you pass the park don’t you want to see children playing and having fun with the equipment or do you want to see what we see nowadays, a park that looks abandoned with rarely anyone playing in sight?

Years ago, Little Park was established and paid for by an elder. He paid for the park equipment because he wanted to see children playing in the park. Not only did he want that but he also wanted people to take care of the establishment or legacy of the park so it would become remembered by many more to come.

Instead the establishment was ignored and neglected for many years, it’s almost as if it were forgotten. When passing the park, we would like to envision children playing, laughing, and having a wonderful time. This park is quiet and there is hardly anyone around, because the equipment is unusable. It also has no swings to match with the swing set, plus the slide is unmaintained. And over the years the City had to remove some of the equipment because they were no longer safe for children to play on them.

Hi, my name is Dylan Demientieff. My Yup’ik name is Ingallak originating from Kasigluk, Alaska. I am the son of Mary Laraux and Gerald Demientieff III, half of my family is from upriver Kuskokwim and the other half is from the tundra village of Kasigluk. I am going to be a senior at Bethel Regional High School and I am 17 years old.

I currently work at ONC with the ALPAR Litter patrol team. This is my second time working with ALPAR and I am serving as the Youth Supervisor position. As a youth supervisor, I am learning more about sorting out recyclables and how to properly dispose of recyclables and/or trash. As part of ALPAR, we are responsible for cleaning up litter in areas and picking up recyclables such as Aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

Playground Equipment Gone!

Growing up in the community of Bethel, I’ve been to all the public playgrounds in the community. But while playing at these parks, I now realized the equipment that other kids in the community also enjoyed were being desecrated by others in the areas of these parks. But by keeping a close eye on the equipment over time, I noticed that it has been mostly kids or adults that have no respect for the public areas.

I also noticed that equipment at M.E. School playground is being damaged by more kids in the housing area and possibly kids from the avenues part of town. And due to the problem with the equipment being removed, kids nowadays have to resort to staying and playing in their front yards instead of being able to have fun enjoying the playground equipment at the parks.

Over the years I noticed that more and more playground equipment would come and go each and every time I would go to the parks. There is a park by the homeless shelter in housing that was built a long time ago and recently I stopped by at the park to see it again and now it has almost nothing. As of now the only actually playable equipment would be the monkey bars but even those are starting to become rickety as well.

Back then when I schooled at M.E. School, there used to be much more playing equipment and after school kids would start abusing the playground supplies, making the play area less enjoyable to the public. I think that the community of Bethel needs to consider making the public playgrounds more safe and playable for the next generation of kids to have fun in the future.

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