NewsLocal News


Milwaukee fifth-grader shares green space project with Vice President Kamala Harris

Posted at 10:30 PM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 23:30:03-04

MILWAUKEE — A local elementary school student got to meet Vice President Kamala Harris during her visit to Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Lenaya Mejia-Rodriguez is a fifth-grader at Lincoln Avenue School on Milwaukee's south side.

"When they told me on Monday night, I was shocked," Lenaya said.

"And I wanted my hair down because I love my natural curls," Lenaya added. "And I wanted her to see my natural curls because I'm not afraid of it."

The vice president was in town to discuss clean energy research and infrastructure in a round table discussion at UW-Milwaukee.

Lenaya's principal, Damaris Ayala, was there to introduce her.


"I was a proud principal, just saying, 'be yourself, if she asks you questions you'll say what you know,'" Ayala said.

"When my principal passed the mic to me, I already knew what to say, I just had it all in my mind," Lenaya said.

For several years, Lenaya has helped develop green spaces at her school. It has ten garden beds, a pergola, a rain garden and a bioswale.

"Whenever we twist the handle, it goes to the rain garden to help all the green infrastructures to grow," Lenaya said. "It will make our community look good and healthier."

"All of the infrastructure on our playground is to help rainwater runoff from going into the river," said Regina Stieber.

Stieber is the community school coordinator with the Sixteenth Street Health Centers and the environmental health department. She said the project helped earn them an award from the U.S. Department of Education. She credits that to students like Lenaya.

"They got to be a part of designing and planning and picking what vegetables go where, and they even designed and got to paint all the artwork that we have," Stieber said. "And they think of it as them serving their community."

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip