Inner-City Kids Get Down with Eco-Responsibility at SLI

Every Earth Day, some powerful learning is taking place at the Solar Living Institute (SLI) in Hopland, California. Seeds of hope and change are planted as dozens of inner-city kids from San Francisco’s Bret Harte School take a cost-free field trip to SLI’s lush, 12-acre campus 95 miles north of the city. Eighty percent of the children who've attended had never even been north of the Golden Gate Bridge before taking this trip.

The kids discover renewable energy as they ride SLI’s solar-powered merry-go-round, plant seedlings and learned about composting, make building bricks with straw and mud, learn about biodiesel fuel, and generate electricity by pedaling stationary bicycles. Many of these kids come from unemployed or very low income, single-parent households and don’t have much chance to experience the natural world, let alone recycling, permaculture, solar power or global warming.

“Most of the kids get off the bus in wide-eyed wonder, but others are hardened and detached at first,” says SLI Programs Director Doron Amiran. “By the end of the day, most of them soften. They dive into the mud and chomp on solar oven–baked cookies. We're able to achieve an incredible transformation with these kids.”

The cost of the field trip is funded through customer purchases of Gaiam products like eco-educational toys, Solar Living Sourcebooks, solar powered gear and designated Gaiam organic cotton Thoughtful Tees. Ten to 15 percent of sales of select items goes directly to SLI for programs including Earth Day for Kids.

“Our thanks go out to customers who are supporting this program through their purchases, so these kids can have a day to  travel to Hopland and experience the sustainable future,” says Real Goods and SLI Founder John Schaeffer. "These are the future stewards of our planet, and every purchase helps ensure that environmental consciousness is part of their worldview."

You can support this important work through your purchase of any of the products linked above. You'll be helping economically disadvantaged kids discover the power to change.

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