By Lee Ross and Shantella Y. Sherman
When Xavier Myles first saw the dance moves and uniforms of Earth’s Natural Force (ENF) Rangers, during an environmental program last year, the 7-year-old Northeast resident could hardly contain himself. Xavier’s mother said her son was so concerned about environmental abuses that he had single-handedly convinced the family to adopt recycling and neighborhood clean-up activities at home and in local parks.
“ENF Rangers made him feel right at home for loving the environment and wanting to preserve the wonderful greenery around our city,” Elaine Myles, Xavier’s mother told the Informer. “It is important to have environmentally-conscious young kids, especially African Americans, from your neighborhood, working towards a shared goal, especially when so many environmental issues disproportionately impact people of color.”
Myles’ enthusiasm demonstrates the power and reach of ENF’s mission to teach youth at very young ages and encourage them to take responsibility for the care and protection of the environment.
Raina Coleman, an ENF Ranger, has been with the organization since 2013. Now a freshman in high school, Coleman plays on the girls basketball team, is a visual artist, and a talented performer with the Rangers.
“Being an ENF Ranger helped me learn more about the environment and why it’s important to do things now before it’s too late,” Coleman said. “I have asthma and allergies and so I think we do a good job of teaching kids that the Earth wasn’t always like this and it’s up to us kids to take care of it now so there won’t be any more children being born with asthma and allergies.”
Coleman said that kids have the power to change the world, and with the right tools, they will be become the next line of defense against negative environmental changes.
ENF reaches out to children between the ages of 5-12 through school and community performances, television broadcasts, and social media promotion. But be clear, there is plenty of Ranger work to be done, both in front of and behind the scenes.
“I love performing in front of little kids because it’s really, cool to see them dancing along to our songs,” Coleman told The Informer. “We practice for weeks just for an hour-long show. It’s fun, but a lot of work. I’ve been performing with the Rangers since I was eight and believe it makes a tremendous impact on other young people.”
ENF encourages youth to stop littering, recycle trash and offers them an alternative way of looking at the world around them. They become, in essence, protectors and defenders of the natural world around them and what they call, their fellow “Earth-Mates.”
“We really want to impress upon schools and family participants the importance of doing their small part to save the planet – as small efforts turn into large movements,” ENF Founder and CEO, Allen C. Burriss said. “We’ve incorporated fun, games, and environmental displays and presentations into the day and we are sure it will have a phenomenal impact on attendees. We want our young people to understand they can be a force for good and they have the power to save the planet by being responsible citizens of the Earth.”
This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer.