SOUL: Save Our Urban Land
Imagine walking past a refuse-filled lot every day on your way to school. Would you be motivated to help clean up the pollution, or would you ignore and deny that a problem existed?
Fortunately, a group of 16-19-year-olds from Robeson and Englewood High Schools in Chicago under the direction of University of Illinois Extension have joined together, funded by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, to help clean up and revitalize their community.
The lots the students chose to reclaim were filled with debris such as bottles and cans, hazardous waste containers, garbage, and even old vehicles and scraps of metal. The material had accumulated over the years and become a source of nonpoint source (NPS) pollution. Runoff from the lots poses a potential threat to the urban stormwater system in the community.
The SOUL-Save Our Urban Land-program demonstrates the benefits of water quality education and land restoration to prevent NPS pollution in an urban environment. The name SOUL reflects the program's parallel goals. The program not only strives to improve the environment but also to enhance the personal life of its participants through their actions. The program helps students develop a sense of pride in their work and an interest in community action. The interconnectedness of the environment becomes apparent. Students see that abuse of the environment has many forms, from violence in the streets to the dumping of motor oil in the storm drain.
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