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In everything that defines kids, from their endless chatter to their school lunch boxes, there is a wonderful innocence and curiosity. The only thing worse than polluting our Earth, I thought, is to encourage in students the dull habits we find so difficult to break out of as adults.

Any effort seeking to improve our way of life on this planet should include the assistance of kids, perhaps even their leadership. Twenty years ago, the environmental threat didn't have the urgency it does today. The difference between my generation and my students' is that they cannot ignore the warnings about the threat to our planet. Within one to five years, we will no longer have the luxury of endlessly debating conservation issues.

The only way kids will catch on is from parents and teachers who show they care about the Earth and its inhabitants. Even if we grown-ups fail to do enough, we can at least establish an example for the generation that follows us. There is no better friend of the Earth than a child; children can teach us more than we might realize. Next to the Earth itself, they are indeed our greatest resource.

Thomas Washington

The writer teaches at St. Jerome School in Chicago.

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