World Oceans Day is still 11 days away, but Los Angeles students celebrated their own Kids Ocean Day today. About 5000 local students amassed onto Dockweiler State Beach to clean up the sand — and to create an aerial eco-art formation!

Apparently, this annual event’s now been going on for 17 years — which makes me wonder why I hadn’t heard of it until now. I would have loved a half day off from school to hang out on the beach! But earlier today, I got to take a chopper ride to see the aerial artwork — which made up somewhat for my bygone, beach cleanup-less days of youth –

Kids Ocean Day

The design for the aerial formation was inspired by the artwork of Carlos Lopez (above, behind the mic) and Ray Aguilar, two young L.A.-area students whose ocean-inspired drawings were combined to create this “Sustain Life” message.

Organized by the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education locally — and by the California Coastal Commission statewide — this year’s Kids Ocean Day especially tried to get across to the students that littering inland means trash on the beach, thanks to urban runoff. That’s why the City of L.A. Stormwater Program’s one of the organizations behind this effort. Kids chanted “Please don’t litter!” in unison, after running all over the beach to collect everything from beer bottles to cigarette butts.

Kids Ocean Day

The light drizzle and cloudy skies didn’t seem to dampen their spirits! Wendie Malik (above) of Just Shoot Me fame showed up to rally the students, and Michael Klubock, executive director of the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education, asked students what they’d found — and what they learned. A few opined that, judging from the trash, people don’t seem to care about the beach — so it’s up to the kids to take the initiative to turn things around!

4645415949 572b364629 Kids OceanDay: L.A. students create an eco message on the sand

Hopefully the first kids that took part in the Kids Ocean Day back in 1994 are taking that initiative, buoyed by the help of kids who’ve taken part in the program in the years since. Did you grow up in the L.A.-area, and if so, do you remember taking part in a Kids Ocean Day?

L.A. kids create a big eco-message
About 5,000 students gathered onto Dockweiler Beach in Los Angeles to send a message to "Sustain Life" on Kids Ocean Day.