People We Love: Asa Needle
Leading teenagers in the clean-up of their hometown, Worcester, Mass.
Teenager Asa Needle used to dream of getting away from his economically depressed hometown of Worcester, Mass. But he feels a stronger connection to his community since getting involved with efforts to clean up the town. Worcester’s post-industrial legacy includes lead pollution, which is particularly harmful to the development of young children. Lead-contaminated soil is common in private yards and public playgrounds in the town’s inner city.
Three years ago, when he was just 13, Needle got involved with Toxic Soil Busters, a local co-op run by teenagers. They tackle the problem of lead contamination, doing everything from grant writing to soil testing to landscaping. Thanks to the work of Needle and his team, 40 households in their neighborhood have safe garden soil. Needle now runs the group’s remediation efforts, and was recognized this year for his hard work and dynamic leadership by a Brower Youth Award.
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