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This Power of Children Award Winner is Minimizing Cafeteria Waste

The Power of Children Awards at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis recognize students in grades six through eleven for their philanthropic impact. To date, 72 winners have been selected for their dedication to their projects that contribute to changing the world. In 2018, six winners were chosen. One winner, Ella Comerford-Barnett, is being acknowledged for her project, Zero Waste Cafeteria.

Ella Comerford-Barnett attends Indianapolis Public School 91, an Indianapolis middle school. She was disappointed with how much waste her school created and took matters into her own hands. Ella created a Zero Waste initiative to reduce how much trash went out the school’s doors. “I’ve always been very environmentally friendly”, says Ella. This inspired her to develop a plan with an environmental mentor to engage her principal and consult with custodians.

The administrators and custodians at School 91 were intrigued by the Zero Waste Initiative. Ella was able to launch her program, which started by educating students and faculty on what you can and cannot recycle. Since beginning her project, she has trained 550 students along with 80 adults to ensure people would know how to recycle efficiently. Ella uses positive reinforcement to help motivate her peers. Through her leadership, the students at Indianapolis Public School 91 have reduced waste by 75 percent! Ella also runs the food rescue program that donates extra food from the cafeteria to local charities.

Since starting the project, Ella has gained excellent public speaking and leadership skills. She gives speeches in front of large crowds, leads small groups in discussions to receive feedback, and has even hosted a group tour for city officials so they could better understand the keys to her success. In order to inspire others to help save the planet by reducing waste, Ella is working on creating a documentary about the work her school has accomplished. Her goal is to get more people involved so her project can expand to other schools and potentially to restaurants and large corporations.

Ella says, “I’m doing this for myself, my brother, my friends, and every single person on this planet we call home.” Ella is always thinking of ways to improve the world, one project at a time. 

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Power of Children Awards