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Carter Degrenier, Corey Bolte, and Lily Marceau are activation for drug addition awareness in the community.
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Student Xavier Pratt has asked the city to set up more recycle bins.
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21st Century After School Coordinator Wendall Nelson had some opening remarks before turning the event over to the students.

Colegrove Students Go Green At Camp Solution

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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One of the larger groups designed posters advocating for animal adoptions. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – Colegrove Park Elementary School students designed eco-friendly programs and businesses during the Camp Solution program.
 
For the past four weeks, fifth and sixth-grade students have been working with CS Wurzberger, known as "The Green Up Girl," designing projects that could have real impacts in the city and the world.
 
"They have taken so much ownership because we told them anything is possible," Wurzberger, the green movement marketing advisor, sustainability consultant, and podcaster said. "They picked something in their community, world, or life that they wanted to change or make an impact on and we fanned the flames."
 
Students displayed their projects at a culminating event Thursday afternoon in the Colegrove gymnasium and projects spanned from endangered animals, drug abuse awareness, to saving the bees.
 
21st Century After School Coordinator Wendall Nelson said the school has hosted the camp over the past several summers and students have looked at local issues and towards their own futures through Camp Optimism, Camp Courage, and this year’s Camp Solution. 
 
"Students first came up with an issue that they felt strongly about and researched. They then came up with their own solution as they designed businesses and projects," she said. "They learned that some of their ideas were completely feasible and they had to make changes."
 
She added that high school students were also involved and seventh and eighth graders enriched the program as mentors. She said through a partnership with the YMCA sixth, seventh, and eighth students learned CPR and first aid and are all now certified babysitters.
 
Wurzberger said Camp Solution has been the largest group she has worked with and through her books and her birds she worked with students to show real environmental concerns.
 
"They learned that it’s not all book stuff. It is not just reading about endangered animals, it is meeting an animal face to face," she said. "They met Alma [an engendered parrot] here at three weeks old as her feathers were coming in. Every day Alma was here with them."
 
She said withdrawn students often connected with the birds and discussed their projects with them. She said many kids who had no idea what they wanted to do were able to find their voice and pinpoint something important to them.
 
"Some of these kids came in so quiet but as soon as we started asking questions they came alive," she said. "They are getting the chance to realize that their voices matter and their ideas have support from their community."
 
Student Xavier Pratt had enough of the garbage around his neighborhood and the danger it posed to animals.
 
"I like animals and I don’t like what happens to them when they eat garbage," he said. "…I asked the city to put recyclable bins at local attractions to reduce the garbage that comes out and try to organize a green up day where they go out and clean up the trash on the streets and make it better." 
 
Wurzberger officially labeled Pratt as the "Green Up Guy" and said she hoped the mayor, who was at the event, followed up with him.
 
Aubrey Levesque and Kaley Goodell also had concerns about garbage. More specifically about plastic in the ocean.
 
"There are less than 1 million turtles left because they are endangered," Levesque said. "Because when people throw plastic into the ocean they mistake it for jellyfish, eat it, and they can’t digest it."
 

The groups presented projects with various solutions to problems facing the city and  the world.
The two took bottle caps and made turtle pins to help spread awareness.
 
Carter Degrenier, Corey Bolte, Lily Marceau, and Carley Pontier looked at the drug epidemic in the community and designed posters and other media to help spread awareness.
 
"We wanted to do something about drug use," Marceau said. "We started researching it and we found out the facts. We did posters and a podcast."
 
Wurzberger said this project will be taken up through an after-school program once the school year begins.
 
Selena Packard, Nathanial Miranda, Jackson Liang, and Arian Tyler all teamed up to advocate for animal adoption and made posters supporting the adoption of hamsters, gerbils, birds, cats, pit bulls and even the black-footed ferret. 
 
"We are a big group and we wanted to help sheltered animals. I chose the black-footed ferret," Miranda said. "Animals can live longer if you adopt them like the black-footed ferret in the wild they live up to 12 years but as a pet, they live up to 15."
 
Wurzberger said she hopes students’ worlds have been opened up and that they are now aware of environmental issues in and beyond their community.
 
She added that she hopes students have found a new confidence and a voice of their own.
 
"As kids, we are always told no and with this, we did not say no to any projects," she said. "We maybe had to tweak some of these projects or guide them but whatever they wanted to do we were going to help them figure out."
If you would like to contribute information on this article, contact us at info@iberkshires.com.

How can women bridge the retirement gap?

Submitted by Edward Jones

March 8 is International Women's Day, a day for celebrating all the accomplishments of women around the globe. But many women still need to make up ground in one key area: retirement security.

Women's challenges in achieving a secure retirement are due to several factors, including these:

  • Pay gap – It's smaller than it once was, but a wage gap still exists between men and women. In fact, women earn, on average, about 82 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the Census Bureau. And even though this gap narrows considerably at higher educational levels, it's still a source of concern. Women who earn less than men will likely contribute less to 401(k) plans and will ultimately see smaller Social Security checks.
  • Longer lives – At age 65, women live, on average, about 20 more years, compared to almost 17 for men, according to the Social Security Administration. Those extra years mean extra expenses. 
  • Caregiving responsibilities – Traditionally, women have done much of the caregiving for young children and older parents. And while this caregiving is done with love, it also comes with financial sacrifice. Consider this: The average employment-related costs for mothers providing unpaid care is nearly $300,000 over a lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — which translates to a reduction of 15 percent of lifetime earnings. Furthermore, time away from the workforce results in fewer contributions to 401(k) and other employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Ultimately, these issues can leave women with a retirement security deficit. Here are some moves that can help close this gap:

  • Contribute as much as possible to retirement plans. Try to contribute as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Your earnings can grow tax deferred and your contributions can lower your taxable income. (With a Roth 401(k), contributions aren't deductible, but earnings and withdrawals are tax free, provided you meet certain conditions.) At a minimum, contribute enough to earn your employer's matching contribution, if one is offered, and try to boost your contributions whenever your salary goes up. If you don't have access to a 401(k), but you have earned income, you can contribute to an IRA. Even if you don't have earned income, but you have a spouse who does, you might be eligible to contribute to a spousal IRA.
  • Maximize Social Security benefits. You can start taking Social Security at 62, but your monthly checks will be much bigger if you can afford to wait until your full retirement age, which will be around 66½. If you are married, you may want to coordinate your benefits with those of your spouse — in some cases, it makes sense for the spouse with the lower benefits to claim first, based on their earnings record, and apply for spousal benefits later, when the spouse with higher benefits begins to collect.
  • Build an emergency fund. Try to build an emergency fund containing up to six months' worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid account. Having this fund available will help protect you from having to dip into your retirement accounts for large, unexpected costs, such as a major home or car repair.

It's unfortunate, but women still must travel a more difficult road than men to reach retirement security. But making the right moves can help ease the journey.

 

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