How schools can spend COVID funds wisely

The Sun Journal reported on Oct. 6 that school districts across Maine may wind up leaving a big chunk of the coronavirus relief money they got this year on the table because they can’t spend it fast enough. Our youth are losing their connection to nature at an accelerated pace, yet the outdoors is a resource for learning, engagement and health and should be available to all students, regardless of race, age, economic status or experience.

I have two ideas for how to spend the money before the year end deadline:

1. A complete kit for school outing club activities

High school outing clubs provide inclusive, non-performance based outdoor experiences that break down social barriers and build lifelong habits of wellness.

6-6 person tents; 20 mid-weight sleeping bags; 20 sleeping pads; 8 good backpacks; 15 sets of snowshoes; a fleet of rubber boots; raincoats, hats and socks; 20 headlamps; camp kitchen with 2 burner stove, pots, and dishes; 2 pairs binoculars; 20 compasses; maps for favorite hikes; and let’s go big – a van for co-curricular outings.

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2. Durable outdoor classrooms and training

Permanent wooden frames to be covered with mildew resistant canvas in spring and fall, or gazebos; wooden tables and benches; a case of clipboards; portable whiteboards; wifi extenders so synchronous learning can happen out under the trees; copious amounts of professional development to support teachers in how and why outdoor learning will help them and their students; AND paid time for a school employee to help coordinate outdoor learning efforts.

Well designed outdoor activities address Social and Emotional Learning competencies that students need to get along with peers and adults, feel connected, supported and that they matter in the world. Young people deserve opportunities to learn in, thrive in and appreciate the outdoors, so they can become informed and engaged champions for our natural resources. When we make the benefits of outdoor experiences accessible to everyone, everywhere we build stronger connections and communities.

Alicia Heyburn,
Executive Director, Teens to Trails,
Brunswick

Voting for the kids

Guess who I am voting for? My eight grandkids and four great-grandkids. You won’t see their names on any ballot.

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At my age, 82, who I vote for will affect them for many years of their lives. So my vote will be for the candidate who loves our country, who has fought for and is for law and order, a strong military and works to keep us a self-reliant country. Where anyone who chooses to work hard can be successful and free. I pray my grandkids and yours get this chance. So think about it, pray about it then vote thoughtfully.

Garry Wheeler,
Topsham

Support for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act

I would like to thank Rep. Pingree for co-sponsoring the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act HR 763 that is now before Congress. This is effective legislation that will reduce America’s emissions by at least 40% in the first 12 years. It will improve health and save lives by reducing pollution. It will create 2.1 million new jobs. It is a bipartisan bill sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats. Being revenue neutral, the fees collected on carbon emissions will be distributed to Americans to spend as they chose. This bill will also help to slow the warming of the Gulf of Maine.

It is great that Rep. Pingree is supporting this plan and we need to ask our other legislators, Rep.  Golden, Sen. Collins and Sen. King to also support this legislation. The scientific experts have said we only have a decade to save the planet. We must act now.

Nancy Hasenfus,
Brunswick

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Vote Horch

These are perilous times. Our environment is in crisis. Our economy is broken. Our two major political parties badger each other rather than offering us bold inspiration for solutions.

What is it we need from our elected state representatives?

These are three quite basic requirements that I believe speak to solving the crises of our time: 1. Representatives who have the experience to lead us toward a sustainable future. 2. Representatives who have the skills to introduce and support policies that balance a strong economy with a protected environment. 3. Representatives who are not beholden to corporate contributions.

Thinking about those three, my vote goes to Fred Horch.

Fred has the education, experience and drive to move us toward affordable and effective alternative energy and to ensure a strong economy that protects and preserves our environment.

As a Green Independent and as a clean elections candidate, he is free to act on his skills and experience without obligation to repay the contributions of corporations or party.

Rosalie Paul,
Brunswick

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