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Published: Monday, 4/14/2008

Area students organize county's 1st Energy Week

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Energy usage and impact on the environment is everyone's concern, especially if there is any hope of cleaning it up, students in the Toledo area are saying.

A small group of called Youth Energy Savers, or YES, are raising awareness by organizing Lucas County's first Energy Week.

"We really wanted not just to change what we're doing, but to see if other people want to change because it's really messing up our Earth with what we're doing now," said Waverly Hill-Mathis, 13, a 7th-grade student at Toledo Christian School.

The student-led effort started with a Sylvania robotics team and expanded to include students from across the county.

"We wanted to show the world that energy is important," said Ajleeta Sangtani, 16, who is in 10th grade at Southview High School. "It's not enough to have 10 students know about it, but to have Lucas County and Toledo know about it too."

So the students met with the Lucas County commissioners and told them about their plan, which received a great deal of support.

In fact, the commissioners are expected to approve a resolution during their meeting tomorrow that declares this week, continuing through Earth Day on April 22, Energy Week.

"We really see that young people hold the key both with the technology and the awareness of the importance of sustainability and having a clean future," said Tina Skeldon Wozniak, president of the commissioners.

The students have outlined a series of easy things everyone can do to be more energy efficient.

Today, for example, is Energy Information Day, during which residents are encouraged to read an article on energy issues or sustainability.

"Saving energy is saving our future. Without energy we won't have a future," Miss Sangtani said. "Our natural resources are getting used up very quickly, and we wouldn't want to live in a world where gas is maybe $20 a gallon."

The big event for the week will be Saturday with an interactive energy fair on the campus of the University of Toledo.

There will be robots, hydrogen and solar cars, and a number of activities and contests for students in all grade levels during the fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Nitschke Hall.

Lori Shaw, a robotics team adviser who has worked with the students planning Energy Week, said that having a student-led initiative to raise awareness is not only promoting education about the environment, but also civic engagement.

"This was just such an amazing learning opportunity for kids because not only does it empower them with knowledge about climate, but it gives them something they can do and they get a huge civic lesson," she said. "As students, if you see a need and actually do it instead of reading about it, [then] as adults hopefully you'll be more apt to be active about it."



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