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'Recycling Town' day care initiative has kids going green

Matthew Mercedes, left, and Mikala Turner, students at Cinthya's Angles Daycare, plays on what they call "Recycle Town," made entirely of trash her pupils brought in to construct the model Friday in Lawrenceville.

Matthew Mercedes, left, and Mikala Turner, students at Cinthya's Angles Daycare, plays on what they call "Recycle Town," made entirely of trash her pupils brought in to construct the model Friday in Lawrenceville.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Take a right on Glass Drive and see the big home with a Styrofoam roof, or neighboring abodes made of Happy Meal boxes. Have a gander at the ice-skating rink that's really an old cooler, or a barbecue grill built from the cardboard core of toilet paper rolls.

Without the work of enterprising day care kids, this all could have become landfill fodder, festering in a trashy grave for centuries.

Ten kids ages 2 to 6 worked hours by the hundreds to create this village of refuse, big enough to consume an old storage room. They call it "My Recycling Town," and it's a concept they hope will catch on.

The green initiative has taken root at Cinthya's Angels Group Daycare, a converted Lawrenceville home along Old Norcross Road that teems with bilingual children and kids whose parents want them to be. The idea is for the village to become nomadic, switching venues every three months and growing via recyclable donations from churches, schools and not-for-profits. The town's next stop is a church.

Costs for kids to gain "village resident" status is $2 and a recyclable addition to the project. Visitors must pay $1. All proceeds are channeled to charities for underprivileged kids, such as a gift drive last Christmas.

The concept was dreamed up by parent Luz Stella Amador during summer vacation last year, when she'd grown bored with making simple crafts with her kids. Her plan is to bring businesses aboard to pay for sponsorships, such as a company logo on a milk-box truck. She's in talks with an elementary school PTA to spread the word.

"This is the beginning," said Amador of Duluth.

New additions to the town must adhere to stringent building "codes." All materials must be safe for kids, and vehicles have to stay pretty mini (no more than five inches tall, and long). Like the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., no building can exceed the 12-inch height of the town's church, a colorful affair of tightly rolled magazine pages.

Day care owner Cinthya Martinez said the town presents an opportunity for parents to collaborate with children, and to imbue the young builders with enthusiasm for recycling.

"The kids get excited when they know they're using something that could have been put in the trash," Martinez said.

Others concur.

"As parents, we see this as a very enriching time for our kids, that they learn something out of recycling," said Jennifer Mercedes.

Isabella Cabrera, 6, grasped the significance of the time she put into the town of refuse. She helped erect a little park from old junk and a train from empty tea boxes. And she saw the bigger picture.

"When we recycle," Cabrera said, "we love our planet."

For more information on the "My Recycling Town" initiative, visit www.myrecyclingtown.com.