High-school senior takes hours out of his week to clean up Hamilton County park

‘All the little things help. They stack up.’
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 6:49 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - One local teenager has taken up the cause of cleaning up the park where he spent his youth.

When it comes to talking the talk, Peter Olsen says all the right things. He speaks about the importance of small acts and taking a leadership stance rather than sitting by the wayside.

He also walks the walk. Olsen is a doer, someone who’s neither daunted by big problems nor dispirited by incremental progress. He would rather roll up his sleeves and put on a pair of plastic gloves than idly complain as things fester around him.

That spirit led the West Side teen to Fernbank Park earlier this summer, where he took it upon himself to collect trash and debris in trash bags.

It became an occupation, not merely something he did once, but something he would continue to do. Olsen started spending hours each week—sometimes twice per week—filling trash bags to the brim.

“We’ve seen some really weird stuff,” Olsen said, “up to and including fridges and tires. It’s crazy how much stuff is down there.”

Olsen is a senior at LaSalle High School.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of trash just everywhere,” he said. “And Fernbank, the park I’m cleaning, is one of those I’ve gone to since childhood. So it kind of holds a special place in my heart. Andseeing all the trash down there, it just felt like an opportunity for me to help. ”

Sometimes Olsen’s mom, other family members or friends have helped.

Olsen estimates in almost 20 weeks of picking up litter, he has collected more than 900 recyclable items and more than 1,000 lbs. of garbage.

“It will definitely get worse if no one goes and helps,” Olsen said. “But with the community that I’ve kind of come across, they do seem like they’re willing to help. The people have offered to help me pick up trash. People do care about the area and will help. They just need someone to kind of help and lead them.”

Olsen says it’s important for everyone to do their part to keep clean this place we call home.

“Try and do all the little things,” Olsen offered, “whether it be picking up trash around you or walking down the road and picking up litter. All the little things help. They stack up.”

Peter says eventually he would like to move on from working at Fernbank Park. However, he says every time he comes back there is more work to be done.

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