A lot of trash — 1,974 pounds’ worth — recently disappeared from Lake Worth streets, thanks to the efforts of 27 local volunteers. / Photos by Carmelle Marcelin Chapman, project director of Healthier Lake Worth

On a recent morning, Healthier Lake Worth (www.cp-cto.org/healthier-lake-worth), in collaboration with the Pineapple Beach Neighborhood Association, held a street cleanup in Lake Worth.

During the Healthier Lake Worth Community Cleanup, 27 volunteers picked up a total of 1,974 pounds of trash and recyclables.

There are three main reasons that litter is bad for any area, says Carmelle Marcelin Chapman, project director of Healthier Lake Worth: “First, litter reflects badly on a community’s environment and, ultimately, on its people’s mental, physical and behavioral health. People who live in a poor-quality environment are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, including anxiety and depression; and more likely to worry about their safety and the safety of their family.”

This was part of one stretch of road before volunteers “untrashed” it.

Second, she explains, litter reduces community pride. “If an area has a litter problem, it is going to reduce or even destroy the pride that residents have about living there. When an area has a litter problem, its residents don’t want to spend time there — so an area becomes uncared for, community spirit suffers, and people’s well-being and health suffer.”

Trash creates vicious cycle

Last, she notes: “Litter leads to more litter. If people see trash on the ground, they’re more likely to dump their own litter there.”

The same stretch of road after the cleanup.

The area that the Healthier Lake Worth members and friends cleaned included Dixie Highway, from Eighth Avenue South to Sixth Avenue South; H Street to 12th Avenue South; and an empty lot on the west side of Dixie Highway south of Eighth Avenue South.

About Healthier Lake Worth

Healthier Lake Worth is a community-driven, resident-led initiative funded by the Palm Healthcare Foundation, which also funds five other similar initiatives in other Palm Beach County communities.

The intent of the initiatives is to bring residents, stakeholders and businesses together to discuss complex health issues that are affecting the community, as well as to create solutions together.

The Lake Worth community selected “behavioral health” as its health focus for the next five years. Based on surveys conducted with local residents, one of the priorities, relating to the community’s definition of  “behavioral health,” was the environment in some local neighborhoods.

Across the board, residents complained about an overwhelming amount of trash, recyclables and bulk items piling up in their streets. As a result, Healthier Lake Worth community members decided to join existing community- and/or neighborhood-led cleanups to improve environmental health and to support healthier behaviors in Lake Worth neighborhoods.

For more information about Healthier Lake Worth, visit www.cp-cto.org/healthier-lake-worth. For information about the Palm Healthcare Foundation, visit www.palmhealthcare.org.