Betty and Louis Henderson are already making their mark on the world at just 7 and 4-years old.
This summer, these tiny conservationists participated in the ActKIDvist Summer Challenge, an initiative dedicated to highlighting the meaningful impact kids are having on their communities.
Betty and Louis got involved with ActKIDvist after their pictures were posted across several local news sites as they joined their mother, Lindsey Henderson, in the fight against new development on James Island. They attended several Charleston City council meetings and protested new development in a way that young children could understand: save our green-space.
So, by the time the ActKIDvist Summer Challenge rolled around, these kids were already well-versed in conservation advocacy!
The outline of their Summer Challenge asked them to choose an issue, research that issue, complete a project or attend an event, and share it on social media. The vote was unanimous: Betty and Louis’s chosen issue would be the sea turtles!
They have been involved in turtle releases on Isle of Palms and Folly since they were both toddlers. Last summer, inspired by the Terrace Theater showing of the documentary “Turtle: The Incredible Journey,” Lindsey created an entire week of at-home curriculum dedicated to turtles. It was around this time that they experienced their very first visit to the Sea Turtle Care Center. Betty was so excited, she took notes on each turtle and their ailments. Their studies came full circle when they saw some of those very same sea turtles return home.
Lindsey reached out to the aquarium to see if a sea turtle conservation expert would be willing to meet with Louis and Betty. Kelly Thorvalson, our Conservation Programs Manager, responded and agreed to meet with Betty and Louis to brainstorm the best way to make a positive impact on the sea turtle population. The children were thrilled as they took their first “meeting” at a nearby coffee shop. Betty had questions prepared and her journal out, ready to take notes.
One thing that is easy for children to understand, and therefore become passionate about, is ways we can help protect nesting turtle mothers – like knocking down our sand castles, filling in our holes, removing our beach gear/toys and picking up litter. With Kelly’s help, Betty and Louis learned more about single-use plastic and its impact on marine life. They began looking for the perfect opportunity to educate other children on this crucial issue.
And as luck would have it, the Terrace Theater featured the turtle documentary again this summer – it was the perfect opportunity they were waiting for!
Betty and Louis, with the help of their mom Lindsey and Kelly Thorvalson, set up a table in the lobby of the theater with information about how each person can help during turtle season. They decided they wanted children to walk away with an action so they asked kids to sign a pledge: “I pledge to remind my family to bring reusable bags when we go to the grocery store.” Louis had a plastic bag and demonstrated how plastic bags negatively impact our ocean, and Betty handed out reusable straws as a take-away.
It was a huge success! The Terrace sold out two theaters and Betty and Louis have over 70 signatures from James Island children pledging to help remember reusable bags! Betty and Louis hope to continue their efforts to educate children (and adults!) about creative ways to avoid single-use plastics. Just like Betty and Louis, you can help keep our beloved sea turtles healthy by using reusable bags and bottles, skipping the straw and packing lunches in glass containers instead of plastic – whenever possible, opt out of plastic!
One small step for two tiny conservationists, one giant leap for sea turtle conservation!