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Copiague student protects the planet

Payton Lewis, a second-grader at Deauville Gardens West

Payton Lewis, a second-grader at Deauville Gardens West Elementary School in Copiague, has launched a recycling initiative titled "Payton's Planet." Credit: Copiague School District

A Copiague second-grader with a passion for protecting the planet has launched a new recycling initiative in his district.

Payton Lewis, who attends Deauville Gardens West Elementary School, is promoting recycling through an effort called Payton's Planet. So far, he has stationed recycling pails in both his school and Copiague Middle School, with his mother, Shakira, helping him collect the deposited bottles each Friday. 

The funds he receives after recycling the empty bottles will be used to purchase additional pails, which they hope will become a staple throughout his school district.

"I want to make the planet safe," Payton, 7, said. "Instead of making it uglier, I want to make it better."

To introduce his recycling initiative, Payton said he manned a table in the spring at the fourth annual Black Long Island Ujamaa Fest in Wyandanch and also coordinated a bottle collection last school year with the help of his school's student council adviser, Christine Orlando. The money raised from those endeavors helped him purchase his first pail.

Payton's other involvements include being the Town of Babylon's youngest junior beautification ambassador, participating in a junior boys hip-hop class at Venettes Cultural Workshop in Wyandanch, playing football in the Copiague Youth League and playing basketball in the Half Hollow Hills Fury's summer league.

He is also a member of his school's dance club.

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