By Ellie Kirk

June 22nd, 2019

RYE, New York – In an effort to bring awareness to the global climate change crisis, Big Picture Foundation (BPF) students from Rye High School and Middle School used their creativity to address environmental issues that cause climate change and that lead to the endangerment of species. On June 22nd, 33 students gathered together to build sand sculptures of endangered animals.  The sculptures surrounded the slogan, “Our Beautiful Earth – Rye, NY, USA.” The group worked diligently with their peers to add intricate details to their sculptures that would be easily visible in a drone shot, taken from above. Then, kids spoke about the causes and effects of climate change and they presented strategies for mitigating damage.

Rising Big Picture Foundation sophomore, Charlie Levine, a strong advocate for improving environmental issues, presented her opinions on global warming. In an on-site interview conducted by rising juniors, Sally Eggers and Ellie Kirk, Charlie stated that “the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing the oceans to become more acidic, which is killing the coral reefs, which is disrupting a lot of the ecosystems.” Charlie crafted the endangered Bog Turtle as part of the sand sculpture project.

When approached by Big Picture Foundation executive director, Kim Tamalonis, the beach day project leader and rising Rye High School junior, Sally Eggers, volunteered to take the lead on the climate change awareness initiative. In the weeks leading up to the event, Sally worked diligently alongside RyeACT Coalition Executive Director and longtime Big Picture Foundation mentor, Nancy Pasquale.  Nancy offered guidance and encouragement, as Sally wrote proposals to the Town Parks Commission, attended a Town Parks Commission meeting, prepared supplies, created posters, and more. Sally’s work ensured that everything from granting participants’ parents free parking to securing permits and legal papers was sorted out so that the event could run smoothly. Supervising adults included Rye Youth Council Executive Director, Lisa Dominici, as well as Kim Rotondo, Nancy Pasquale, Maite Frost, Bill Eggers, Kassandra Souply, Traci Fiori, Bill Lawyer, Sonia Hounsell, and Kim Tamalonis.  Bill Lawyer, Brenda Valentine, Debbie Reisner, for the Rye Town Parks Commission were all instrumental in preparations for the day.

Rye High School senior, Sebastian Roman, explained how he created individual letters for the central phrase, by using “recycled cardboard materials left over from the RMS art gallery,” as well as by using fabrics collected by Rye High School’s environmental awareness club.  The club advisor, Maite Frost explained that kids had gathered old clothing, pillow covers, and other fabrics to be used in a project. Big Picture Foundation’s need for fabric came at just the right time for a partnership between the two groups. Rather than purchasing new materials, Sebastian’s decision to employ recycled matter adhered to Big Picture Foundation kids’ desire to limit the adverse human impact on the environment, to encourage sustainable practices, and to draw attention to the issues at hand.

As the world progressively works to lessen pollution, reduce carbon emissions, and change manufacturing practices, there’s hope for protecting our environment. Still, it is necessary to draw attention to all that has happened and all that can be done to improve human practices.  By invigorating classmates to become community leaders, Big Picture Foundation and all organizations devoted to protecting “Our Beautiful Earth” are taking impactful steps towards a better, cleaner future.