Warriors and students team up to beautify an East Oakland school
on September 14, 2011
Fruitvale Elementary School fourth grader Zarijah smiled as she looked down at her blue and gold paint-splattered clothes. “Today I’m learning with the Warriors and the Warrior cheerleaders, and today’s the best day ever,” she said.
Eight-year-old Zarijah, along with fellow Fruitvale fourth and fifth graders, took part in the Golden State Warriors’ Green Mob Beautification Project on Tuesday. Team representatives and Warrior Girls cheerleaders helped students plant trees and clean up school grounds, although due to the ongoing NBA lockout regarding salary disputes, players were not in attendance.
The Warriors began a series of “Green Mobs” in partnership with insurance provider Esurance last year, during which community groups participate in events supporting sustainability and environmental awareness. Tuesday’s Green Mob was one of four planned for this season.
About 30 Fruitvale Elementary students decked out in matching green shirts participated in the event, planting lemon and orange trees, collard greens, cabbage, strawberries and herbs. Wielding paintbrushes and rollers, the kids also eagerly coated planter boxes in the Warriors’ signature blue and gold hues. While the school’s entrance is lined with foliage, the garden, designated by red wooden doors in the rear of the yard, is the only section of campus greenery solely maintained by students.
“We do academics and enrichment activities, and gardening is one of those,” said Shawntea Hall, director of Learning for Life, the non-profit after-school program the students are all enrolled in, and which offers a gardening class that will teach the kids to care for the newly planted vegetation.
Tuesday’s event was part of the “Warriors Back to School in the Bay: 5 Schools in 5 Days” Initiative. Throughout the week, team representatives are visiting schools throughout the Bay Area, and leading events such as reading rallies and backpack giveaways.
“It’s great to come over here and see how excited they are,” said Warriors assistant coach Michael Malone, “to see how much pride they take in their school and how excited they are to have the Warriors over here.”
“This is my first year with the Warriors,” Malone continued, “but I know the NBA is very involved with giving back to the community. The players, the coaches, everyone involved in the NBA wants to give back to the people in their own communities and let them know that we do care and we want to make our communities as nice as possible.
“With kids going back to schools, and their futures becoming so impacted by the decisions that we make today, we wanted them to get involved, get their hands in the dirt, plant some trees, prune back some grape leaves and really get started this year,” said Joann Lee, brand partnerships manager for sponsor Esurance.
By 5 o’clock, the green shirts were paint-splattered, and some students appeared reluctant to hand back their supplies. Hall said Learning for Life plans to partner with the Warriors in the future, but in the mean time, the gardening class will keep up the Green Mob’s hard work.
When asked about being part of the Green Mob, Fruitvale fourth-graders Torey and Jay C. both summed it up in one word: “Awesome.”
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