Is good citizenship a natural outgrowth of the education process for children or is it something that needs to be fostered and encouraged? Those who work with our children on Roosevelt Island refuse to risk that good citizenship will develop by itself, with no outside input. They make a strong effort to consciously develop good citizenship among our school-age children.
One of the leaders in that effort is Lynne Shinozaki, chair of the Social Cultural and Education Committee (SCE) of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA).
“The SCE is developing a campaign to highlight actions individuals can take to make our Island warmer for everyone. We are working with local groups to promote good citizenship. Most residents are loyal members of our community and praise life in our small town,” explains Shinozaki.
The campaign actually began some months ago when members of Brownie Girl Scout Troop 3001 brainstormed a list of ways to complete the sentence, “On Roosevelt Island we…..” with a verb that suggested a positive action and a drawing to illustrate the thought.
Troop Leader Aiesha Eleusizov said that the one action that really resonated with the second and third grade girls was the necessity for dog owners to clean up after their pets. One girl said, “I once stepped in it with my bare feet.” This brought forth a loud chorus of “EEEUW” from the troop. This is an issue that affects everyone who lives on the Island and who wants to enjoy the many activities our grassy expanses offer to our residents. Several of the Scouts drew pictures of children playing with their dogs and cleaning up after them. Each drawing contained the sentence, “On Roosevelt Island we pick up the poop” to help remind everyone to be a responsible dog owner. In addition to the Girl Scouts, other youth organizations will be asked to join the campaign for good citizenship.
Shinozaki says, “The ‘On Roosevelt Island we’ posters will emphasize positive actions like greeting neighbors and helping elderly residents. They will be printed in a large format for placement on the Tram, the Red Buses, and the kiosks. Some will be scanned and displayed on the monitors in Tram cabins. RIOC has agreed to support the reproduction of the posters.”
According to Shinozaki, there are several objectives for the program. Encouraging good citizenship is the first. She also believes the program will foster the children’s creativity. Enabling Island youth to develop a sense of ownership of Roosevelt Island is another one, as well as empowering children by showing them they can have a positive effect on life here.
Once the campaign is up and running it will be interesting to see if the actions of children are more effective than lecturing by politicians, which is often the method adults choose when seeking to change behavior. One thing is certain, the children involved will be well on their way to becoming helpful and productive citizens of our Island.