Two kids from Woodside have galvanized their community by organizing cleanup efforts of trash dumped along Skyline Boulevard near State Route 92, including a successful Dec. 19 cleanup day. Niamh Dawes, 14, and Aiden Zahedi, 10, over the past month, have helped organize their community to take action after noticing trash dumping and hearing complaints from the community. The two are neighbors who live in Woodside near Skyline Boulevard and share an interest in protecting their environment.
“Aiden and I just decided, why not try and start something. Even if it won’t take off, we can at least try and make people aware about it,” Dawes said.
Their work has paid off, with neighbors, government officials and transportation authorities working to help them clean up trash. Along with 30 volunteers, they cleaned two pullout areas on Saturday, Dec. 19, along Skyline Boulevard, not far from Upper Crystal Spring Reservoir Vista Point. The California Department of Transportation showed up two days before to move the bulk of the trash sitting on the ground. However, it did not go into the bushes to get trash because it did not have the proper permits. Volunteers went into the bushes to pull things out like sofas, car parts, car seats, bicycle wheels and other debris. With the volunteers’ help, they took away three commercial truckloads of trash to the dump.
Dawes said although her neighbors and community are spread out because of where they live, everyone in their area came together to help them.
“I found out that our community is a lot closer than it appears, and people will take action if they need to, and they will listen to kids,” Dawes said.
Both children said their parents have taught them about the environment’s importance and leaving nature in good condition for the next generation. Zahedi cares about the environment after seeing the beauty of nature while hiking with his family.
“When we saw trash in the area, we were really disappointed because this is supposed to be the scenic route, and we were really disappointed because it’s an environmental problem, and it’s pretty ugly,” Zahedi said.
Dawes helped found a nonprofit organization called Heirs To Our Oceans two years ago to help clean up the oceans.
“I’ve always just had a passion for the environment,” Dawes said.
Before the cleanup day, they helped organized a Dec. 13 community zoom meeting with about 20 people to discuss the issue and solutions. They formed groups with team leaders who could plan events, including the cleanup day. They had a Dec. 16 phone call with San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley to discuss the issue. They also raised over $1,000 for cleanup efforts by selling pizzas donated by Rise Woodfire in San Mateo.
Zahedi said leading the cleanup efforts taught him to reach out and ask for help in solving a community problem, which the kids did when they talked to the community and government officials. Zahedi spoke with Supervisor Horsley and said he listened to their concerns and got them in contact with other local officials who can help them.
“I wasn’t sure if they would take action and help us out quickly, but they responded super quickly, and all we had to do was ask,” Zahedi said.
Both kids want to continue to clean up other local areas that have dumped trash and debris. They are looking at future plans to put up architecture at popular dumping points to deter people from dumping trash, which has been an issue for years.
“It’s not just about a trash problem, I mean that’s a portion of it, but it’s honestly also a dumping problem because people keep dumping unless we do something about it,” Dawes said.
They also plan to organize further environmental cleanups on streets with trash and debris. They plan to take a break for the holidays so everyone can spend time with their families.
“We do want to do some other cleanups after the holidays,” Zahedi said.
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