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Trashy villains, super heroes battle at elementary schools

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Nov. 9, 2010 at 5:09 a.m.

Hawk, one of the Litter-Fighting superheroes shares a moments with students from the Juan Linn Elementary School. The educational program, which teaches the importance of not littering, was developed by the Texas Department of Transportation and its Don't Mess with Texas campaign.

What is the Litter Force?The Litter Force are spandex-clad super heroes who fight trashy villains like giant potato chip bags, angry soda cans or dirty cigarette butts.

The purpose it to educate students about the Texas Department of Transportation's Don't Mess With Texas campaign.

After watching the presentation, which uses the characters, cartoons, games and songs, 88 percent of third-graders will know that Don't Mess With Texas means not to litter.

Anti-trash super heroes chased Chiponator, a giant potato chip bag, and Pop Top, an angry soda can in the Juan Linn Magnet School cafeteria Tuesday to teach students not to litter.

The flashy super heroes known as the Litter Force swooped in during a statewide tour sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation's Don't Mess with Texas campaign.

"The purpose of the presentation is basically to get kids educated and empower them to not litter," said Whitney Burleson, who was the program's emcee.

A crowd of first-graders wiggled in their seats and screamed as small groups battled to throw away trash faster than the others.

The students watched cartoon programs and learned the best ways to handle waste.

"Don't throw trash, and you have to put it in the trash or recycle it," said Chrystal Martinez, a first-grader who watched the presentation.

The Litter Force only visits towns who are in good standing with Keep Texas Beautiful, said Joni Brown, director of Keep Victoria Beautiful. This is the Force's second school visit, and Joni believes reaching young children with the message is ideal.

"There's a lot of excitement and they're very easy to influence at this age," she said. "They soak it all in. The other thing is they kind of pass the message on to mom and dad, big brother and big sister so it's important that we reach them at this really formative age."

Throughout the presentation students chanted "Don't Mess with Texas" after singing songs.

Burleson said 88 percent of third-grade students who've seen the presentation know what the slogan means.

"It's an easy message Don't Mess with Texas, everybody's seen it before, but it's going in depth and explaining what it means to them and how it looks in their everyday lives."

The Litter Force also visited Torres Elementary School on Tuesday.

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