A group of Penticton girls are hoping to get city council’s attention after their community work revealed a nicotine-filled problem along the shores of Skaha Lake.
On May 4, the First Coyote Hills Girl Guides headed to the beach along Skaha Lake to conduct their annual cleanup.
“Skaha Lake is well used by each of our girls, so we wanted to get out there. We have 18 girls so we could cleanup a large area. We covered the beach, playground and park area,” said guide leader Amanda Davies.
The cleaners ranged in age from nine to 12 and Davies said the girls always enjoy the cleanup. This year they were tasked to locate the dirty dozen and identify what garbage they found the most of and how much of it. Unlike years past, all girls had the same answer – cigarettes.
“At the end of the garbage hunt I asked they what they were most surprised to find,” explained Amanda. “In past years they’ve said things like socks or umbrellas, but this year they all yelled out cigarettes, they were flabbergasted with the amount they found.”
The girls wanted to count the amount of butts found, so they added them all up and discovered they had collected 658 butts.
“We asked them what they thought they could do. There were some suggestions to make posters, ban smoking, but the older girls thought they should tell the government.”
With that plan in mind each girl wrote a hand-written letter to Penticton City Council sharing their concerns over the mess on the beach.
“Can you please do something to prevent people smoking in public parks please?” reads one letter. “Small kids could breath in the smoke and that would be really, really bad.”
“Please stop this chaos and start looking after your city,” adds another girl guide. “Or else this world as we know it will not be the same.”
“We found 658 cigarettes and we are not very pleased about it,” reads one more. “It’s bad.”
Amanda’s daughter Rowyn Davies, 10, was one of the guides who cleaned up the beach and she said it was pretty gross to see all the butts.
“We found a lot of cigarette butts and plastic bags,” said Rowyn.
“It’s really, really bad for people to smoke, especially by parks and stuff. They just throw their butts everywhere and animals could come and think its food and eat it and die, which is really bad.”
Rowyn wrote one of the letters to council, including some pictures.
“I drew no-smoking signs on them,” said Rowyn, who hopes there is more signage and butt containers placed in the parks.
“They still throw butts everywhere, but maybe it won’t be on the ground as much, it is a little better.”
As for guide leader Amanda, she says the girls were truly impassioned to write to city council and they hope that they are heard.
“That age group looks at this situation and believes if they write a letter, they can make a difference. They have such strong beliefs so they were very excited to make their voices heard,” said Amanda.
“They just feel that grown ups need to do more. They are going to inherit this world, so they are hoping something will be done.”
The letters have since been delivered to city council and council said they appreciated the girl’s hard work and letters.
“I am so proud. You see these girls, and especially my daughter, just run right in as they think they can change the world and it just makes me so proud,” said Amanda.