KLB Healthy Communities Grant recipient, the TECHE Project, recently concluded their Geaux Paddle Youth Program and has since received positive support and feedback from parents, participants, and community members. The Geaux Paddle project focused on environmental education and aimed to teach youth members the importance of environmental stewardship while enhancing their knowledge of the Bayou’s ecosystem. The program also taught youth how to safely paddle through Bayou Teche, Louisiana’s First National Water Trail. The first day of the program consisted of safety training and instruction led by water-quality expert, Trent Haines. The second day included paddling throughout the bayou and concluded with an art project created from trash collected from the water.
Overall, 10 youths participated in the workshop. The TECHE project found the most successful aspect of the workshop to be getting kids in canoes on the water. Director Patti Holland shared, “By the end of the workshop, they were so confident, and some stayed longer to paddle!”
When working on the art project, the youth were able to be hands-on and learn the importance of recycling by turning littered water bottles into art. The children worked with artist Marla Kristicevich and drew inspiration from American artist and glassblower, Dale Chihuly. Participants were proud to have created a meaningful sculpture that would be on display for the remainder of the summer at the Bayou Teche Museum. In order to continue to promote environmental stewardship and responsibility among children and youth within the community, the TECHE project plans to continue this workshop next summer and work with local artists.