Yokota teens clean the streets of Fussa
FUSSA CITY, Japan -- On a typical Saturdays, many teens are playing video games, surfing Facebook or sleeping in. Saturday Jan. 19, was different.
Yokota Teen Center Boys and Girls Club members helped clean the streets of Fussa City as part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. The local Fussa citizens volunteered through the mayor's office to assist with the cleanup as well.
"The message (we're trying to convey) is: what are you doing for the community?" said Floyd Carmona, Teen Center manager and the coordinator of the event. "We're trying to teach teens the responsibility of serving the community, and the event we picked was trash cleanup."
The event was not only an outlet to improve the local community, but it was also a great way to show the Fussa community that Yokota's teens are good ambassadors, Carmona said. It also increased the local community's awareness of the Yokota Teen Center.
The cleanup began from the Yokota Air Base's Fussa Gate to Fussa Train Station because, "It's the most visible area between the communities," Carmona said. "The action itself tells both Yokota and Fussa communities that we do care about where we live. The act itself of taking care of the community is priceless for the teens."
When the teens formed up and headed out the gate at 3 p.m., a group of citizen volunteers was waiting from across the street with trash bags and tongs in hand.
With more volunteers than anticipated, the event that was expected to take two hours was completed in only an hour.
"This event is going to serve a lot of reasons for different people. For one, it's making our teens feel they did something good, help them build self-esteem, increase social skills by getting involved with others, and meeting the locals," Carmona said. "Every kid is going to take away something different from the event, and I hope it is a good feeling for them."
Carmona's hope reached at least two students who participated in the volunteer opportunity.
"(I) definitely want to volunteer again in the future," said Dominick Miller, 15, a student at Yokota Middle School. "It feels great. I love this town and its people. They always say good morning to me and it makes me feel like a better person by helping the locals clean the street."
Abram Smith, 12, a student at Yokota Middle School, also said he would volunteer again in the future.
"I had fun today, and I felt good about myself and for the town," Smith said. "It really showed that the Japanese care about their community as much as we do."
"This event gives our host nation a different light - that we are human," Carmona said. "We're people and we care about where we live, I hope even one person can change their mind about our American teens and that one person can change other people's mind about who we really are."