TIARA GORDON/RICHARD WRIGHT PCS/SOTC2016
Kingman Island and Heritage Island are two separate islands along the Anacostia River that are being improved by Living Classroom DC and the Department of Energy and Environment, Green Zone Environmental Program (GZEP).
GZEP youth employees, from the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), based at Phelps Architect Construction and Engineering High School worked on the environment doing things like carrying wood and picking up debris. According to Jalante Carter, 16, “It’s okay; it gets boring. It would be nice if we can work inside instead of the heat, but I enjoy making my community better not only for myself but for my fellow peers as well.” The GZEP program was made to beautify the environment, improve air quality, give educational opportunities and, most importantly, get youth involved.
Kingman Island was particularly chosen because of its history. It is the largest island along the Anacostia River and is the third largest island in the District of Columbia. People grew “victory gardens” on the island after World War II. It was originally a dump that now is being transformed into a park so that more people have a chance to visit and do some of the fun activities there such as boating, hiking and fishing. It is also managed by Living Classrooms DC from the National Capital Region.
GZEP ward manager, Prince Langley, 25, who has been working with the program for over two years, started off as a team leader. Langley is a graduate from Morgan State University, but attends graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania studying architecture and landscape architecture. He feels that the program will benefit the youth by letting them “understand the changes of the community.”