September 10, 2013

Proving that kids are never too young to learn about material recycling and reuse, volunteers from DPR’s Newport Beach, CA, office recently hosted a group from the Foundation-supported Girls Inc. of Orange County for the fifth annual Generation Reduce Reuse Recycle (GenR3) green children’s program.

Held Aug. 2 at the organization’s Youth and Family Center in Costa Mesa, CA, the event introduced a group of 40 girls, ranging from third to sixth grade, to concepts related to sustainable building and environmental responsibility. Coordinated by Laura Lawson, DPR’s regional green leader for Southern California, the event spanned nearly three hours and drew a dozen DPR volunteers, plus DPR’s summer extern from Girls Inc., Briseida Miranda. GenR3 was planned as part of the Girls Inc. summer program’s two-week theme focusing on “Careers, Future and College.”

Following brief introductions from the DPR volunteers and an interactive green building overview from Lawson, the girls were broken into teams and tasked with brainstorming and designing their own green classrooms. The teams then constructed classroom models using recycled materials such as old foam core presentation boards, compact discs, bottles, egg cartons, berry containers and tile samples, as well as pipe cleaners, modeling clay and popsicle sticks. Guiding the process were the five basic facets of green design, as described by Lawson: site, energy, water, materials and people.

In addition to the emphasis on sustainable building techniques, the volunteers also introduced the girls to their various careers.

“As part of the volunteer introductions, we discussed our roles at DPR so the students think about all the different types of jobs there are out there, even within one company, and what skills are needed for those jobs (math, art, science, etc.),” explained Lawson.

This is the second year DPR volunteers have teamed up with Girls Inc. for the GenR3 event. Following their first GenR3 collaboration in 2012, the organization started its own Girls Restoring Emerging Environmental Needs, or G.R.E.E.N., Club based on the information provided about recycling and sustainable building.

Founded in 1954, Girls Inc. of Orange County positively changes the lives of 4,000 girls ages 4 ½ to 18 each year by providing year-round holistic, compensatory and intentional programming focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Its mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold.

Girls Inc. of Orange County is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $845,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2012. Over the past five years, the Foundation has awarded more than $2.4 million to 21 different organizations focused on providing community support to grade school and high school-aged children.