By Mark Hallum
City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) announced at Astoria Houses Tuesday he will be investing district funds in educating children on climate change and science.
Parceled out to programs within his district, as well as to the Alley Pond Environmental Center — located at 228-06 Northern Blvd. in Little Neck — the $510,000 in Greener NYC initiative funds will support organizations that educate minority students and, according to Constantinides, offset the misconceptions about climate change being spread by the Trump administration.
Each council district in the city was given $70,000 for sustainability projects from the Greener NYC initiative funded through the city budget for Fiscal Year 2019.
“With climate change being what it is, we need our young people. They’re going to be the ones that are going to be leading the charge. They’re the ones who are going to make the difference,” Constantinides said. “Science is a crucial component at the core of our education. Moreso now than ever. The effects of climate change are branching into every single aspect of life from insurance firms to right here on the Hallets Cove Peninsula.”
Constantinides said the effects of Hurricane Sandy on Astoria Houses was devastating to residents — many of whom were seniors — who struggled without elevators or clean water.
Alley Pond Environmental Center received a $15,000 allocation which will go toward maintaining the wetlands nestled at the southern end of Little Neck Bay to continue hosting educational seminars for children across the city.
“The Greener New York Initiative is a wonderful program that allows Alley Pond Environmental Center, for the past several years, to extend our reach to more students while fulfilling our mission on the importance of educating children and adults on the importance of protecting and preserving the natural world around us,” said Irene Scheid, executive director of Alley Pond.
NY Sun Works, an Queens organization that teaches students about hydroponics and gives them real world experiencing growing and learning the elemental needs of plant life, received $25,000 to support the program.
“Investing in our children’s education is investing in the future of our planet, and Council member Constantinides has proven his commitment to future generations through his continued support to schools in his district. With NY Sun Works partnership, teachers will access innovative science and sustainability curriculum already aligned to the 2018 NYC Science Scope and Sequence standards. It is proven that higher order thinking, academic performance and student engagement improve with exposure to this type of program,” NY Sun Works Executive Director Manuela Zamora said.
Global Kids Executive Director Evie Hantzopoulos, of Astoria, said many students in Queens have seen climate change first hand with Hurricane Sandy. Many of them are immigrants who were themselves displaced by natural disasters intensified by climate change.
“Climate change is barely taught in our school systems and it’s imperative that our young people receive the tools they need to address these issues in the future,” Hantzopoulos said. “This is not just and an environmental issue, it’s an economic justice issue, it’s a racial justice issue, it’s a food just issue. Climate change is going to impact so many areas of our lives.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall