Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What happened to A Day at the Beach? (BP Oil)

Recently my 7 year-old niece was spending some time with Mark and I playing with the baby, and she was asking why we can't take our usual summer trip to visit grandma and grandpa on the Florida beach.  Like I told her, it's a good question.  But then I had to pause.  My problem was not so much not being able to think of anything to say, as being able to think of too much.

Almost everyone, serious environmentalist or not, now knows about the BP Oil Disaster.  People are generally aware that the spill is bad for wildlife, and for the economy.  Less often discussed are the affects on children and families. 

The sad truth is that beaches near the spill are no longer safe for children to play on.  Because they have thinner skin and are more likely to put things in their mouth, children are more easily affected by toxins that wash ashore with the oil. I think about all of the fun I had running around on the beach as a kid, building sandcastles and exploring, collecting shells in a pail, sun on my cheeks and sandy wind in my hair (much to my mother's delight).  It saddens me that now because of some careless adults children are missing out on this freedom that used to seem like a right of childhood.

This raises another important question for me: How can we best talk to children about big issues like this?  When my daughter is older, I want her to understand similar challenges in a way that will enable her to be a leader in helping to create a better world.  I think to just say that we can't go to the beach because it's dirty is not enough -there is a reason why it is that way, and children of a certain age (as I'm learning with my niece) are very good at asking "why."  I think it's important to talk about challenging issues with kids, but at the same time, it's hard to know what to say because we want them to feel safe.  I think a solution-oriented approach is generally the best way to interest people in problems, and maybe this is true for children as well?  This author provides some ideas of her own, for how to raise little people into responsible citizens in this big, complicated world.


  1. That is a very good question....what happened to the day at the beach? I live on the Gulf coast of FL and because of the BP spill, we haven't had any days at the beach. I would not let my family go to the beach this summer because of all the dangers and unknowns from the oil spill. It has been devastating to our area but we will bounce back.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I appreciate the visit. And I really like your "green" attitude and your blog.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about the effect the Oil Spill has had on you and your area! I'm sure the people of the Gulf will stay strong and come through it, but we should do our best to make sure it doesn't happen again!

    Thank you, I'm a fan of your blog too, those chicken tenders look amazing!