Kathie diStefano employs interactive techniques and creative arts to build awareness for environmental themes.
Playing In a Cleaner Neighborhood is designed for elementary schools and offers lessons that teach the need for trash reduction, increased recycling and the effects of trash pollution on our environment.  
The interactive lessons and projects range from pre-school through grade 5/6 combining the trash theme with creative and language arts. Some lessons use ‘play’ to teach healthy group dynamics so that the children have fun while learning how to work creatively together.  

Playing in a Cleaner Neighborhood reaches out to all apects of the school community by sharing information about the consequences of our current trash behavior. Through reflection, observation and best practice stories Avalanche Arts hopes to inspiring it’s audiences to become more aware of how they deal with their trash. The importance of putting trash where it belongs, be it in the trashcan or recycling bin, and the consequences for our environment when we don’t, are important focus points of the lessons and projects. 

Grades 1-2: Ms. Kathie performs a short interactive show on litter in our waterways; she may also visit classrooms after the show for a follow up lesson including show and tell activities and group discussion. (max 50 pupils)

Grades 3-5: Creative Games for the classroom combined with trash and recycling themes; informative and fun. (space permitting it can be a drama lesson, max 1 class)


Operation Trash for middle and high school
An Operation Trash workshop includes an introduction lecture, group activities and artistic images of trash and recycling facts and figures. Classroom discussions along the way provide valuable learning moments. This workshop can be offered as a ‘one of’ or in a series including, but not limited to, the following components:

The Eco Quiz is a great way to test general knowledge regarding recycling, sustainability and trash management. In addition to questions revolving around the trash and recycling theme, the quiz also includes video’s and animations. Audiences can team up in groups to have fun learning while practicing communication skills, and a bit of friendly competition. The Eco Quiz has an introduction which includes a slide show full of facts, figures and artistic images revolving around the need for reducing our trash and increased recycling efforts on both a local and global scale. Sound effects used during the quiz keep the pace high energy. Students are invited to join the quiz master in reading questions and helping with quiz sound effects.
 
Improvisational theater workshops with a ‘Green Theme’
Playing improv games can be great fun and is a wonderful way to work on healthy group dynamics in a creative setting. Adding themes to the improvisations can increase awareness for important social issues. Playing improv games invites students to: express their creativity; dare to share ideas; work together; discover that there are no bad ideas, only underdeveloped ones; experience how failing helps us learn.
Playing improv games is fun, teaches valuable life skills 
and helps young adults to build social skills


See also ‘Bringing people together through play
The Eco News Show is a one-act play about how our trash behavior is affecting the planet. Through improvisational theater workshops, playwriting and creative arts a 20-30 minute play is created to inform and teach trash management awareness. The Eco News is presented as a TV show where the following skills are practiced: public speaking, text writing, physical expression and visual arts. The shopping bag fashion show is a popular news item where students ‘strut their stuff’ while bringing attention to the need for sustainable shopping bags to replace disposable plastic ones. This theatrical production includes small and medium sized roles for on stage as well as several important off stage jobs. In this way students can pick if they want to be on or off stage while emphasizing that all aspects of the production are of important. Although there is an existing script for this show students are encourage to alter text to fit their characters as well as creating their own news items. 
Operation Trash projects can be tailor made to fit  
student needs and curriculum perimeters.


Community Outreach
 
Avalanche Arts brings people together to learn and share while having a good time working in a community based setting. Over the years we have created fun activities for audiences of mixed ages and backgrounds, while building awareness for the need to work together to keep our neighborhoods clean. 


Greening Heijplaat
 
Heijplaat is an area in southern Rotterdam where Avalanche Arts is located. In 2008, and together with area residents, Greening Heijplaat was launched. This grass roots initiative was born out of the need to clean up a local beach full of litter and river debris. Over the years residents have rallied together inviting friends and neighbors to come out and join the cleanup events. Greening Heijplaat cleanup efforts have paid off; this once litter filled recreational spot is now a cleaner and safer area.  
 
In addition to community clean ups, Greening Heijplaat also organized High Tea's, the Flea Market Lottery, and the Eco Quiz, all designed to stimulate recycling, decrease litter and encourage sustainable consumer choices. One of the highlights of Greening Heijplaat was the Eco News Show where local residents took to the stage. This one-act play was part of Harbor Traces, an inter-cultural exchange with professor Steve Bradley, artist and professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Avalanche Arts hosted professor Bradley as artist in residence where he ran a series of stop motion animation workshops with young adults. The art pieces and films created were incorporated into the Eco News Show performance.  
In addition to community clean ups, Greening Heijplaat also organized High Tea's, the Flea Market Lottery, and the Eco Quiz, all designed to stimulate recycling, decrease litter and encourage sustainable consumer choices. One of the highlights of Greening Heijplaat was the Eco News Show where local residents took to the stage. This one-act play was part of Harbor Traces, an inter-cultural exchange with professor Steve Bradley, artist and professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Avalanche Arts hosted professor Bradley as artist in residence where he ran a series of stop motion animation workshops with young adults. The art pieces and films created were incorporated into the Eco News Show performance.


Testimonials
 
“What a delight to have your talent, dedication and inspirational energy around! We were so lucky Steve made the connection with you in R'dam and you were willing to come over and enlighten us, the teachers and the kids in the classroom. You are the BEST and what a creative force, hopefully the BRSCC can work with you in the future and extend this collaboration.”  
Annet Couwenberg, former chair Baltimore Rotterdam Sister City Committee  
 
 
“My students are so enriched by their work with you. Thanks for sharing your gifts with us”.   
Kelly Klinefelter Lee, English Teacher, Benjamin Franklin High School 
 
 
“I have genuinely enjoyed having the both [Jason Reed] of you at our school and in our class. I hope that this is the start of an ongoing partnership and friendship. Thank for all that both of you do!”  
Chris Wilson, English/Drama Teacher, Benjamin Franklin High School   
 
“Kathie's presentation was eye opening! I had no idea how similar people's perceptions of garbage in Rotterdam was to citizens in Baltimore. It was awesome when we had to get up and work together to undo the tangled mess we had become.”   
Kate Amberger, Curtis Bay Elementary School  
 
 
“Working with Kathie was a joy, and we can all be extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish in such a short time.”   
Jason Reed, Filbert Street Garden community outreach project and Open Society Fellow. 
Dates 2019
January 2019:  
Mavo Vos Operation Trash Poster Project  

Playing in a Cleaner Neighborhood, Jan Ligthart Elementary, NL 
Rotterdam-Baltimore City Link collaboration 
 
November 2018: Avon Grove Charter School visit to discuss potential exchange program, West Grove, PA, USA 
Operation Trash workshops at Montfort College, Rotterdam, NL 
 
October: Baltimore Public Works meetings to kick off collaboration  
Young Audiences of Baltimore presentation for staff, Baltimore, USA 
Week of Sustainability, workshops, Geuzencollege, Vlaardingen, NL 
 
Sept-Oct: Playing in a Cleaner Neighborhood at Dr. Bavinck Elementary, Vlaardingen, NL

August: Operation Trash lectures at Montfort College & Wolfert College, Rotterdam, NL 
 
June: Directed The Eco News Show performed by children from BSO De Schakel, Vlaardingen, NL 
 
April – May: Operation Trash Virtual Exchange, linking Lakeland Elementary Middle School in Baltimore with Het Balkon in Maassluis, the Netherlands. 
 
March 5-9: School visits in Baltimore, meeting with Baltimore Department of Public Works, Baltimore Rotterdam Sister City Committee, Baltimore Green Maps, among other partners for the Operation Trash Virtual Exchange program. 
 
Feb 27: Kathie diStefano presents... an interactive lecture at Somerford, assisted living community, Newark, DE, USA 
 
Feb 21: Rotterdam Baltimore Sister City meeting, De Rotterdam, Wilhelminakade 177, Rotterdam, NL 
 
Feb 1- Feb 22: 'Playing in a Cleaner Neigbhorhood” visit elementary school Het Christal in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands 
 
Feb 5 - 7: Operation Trash Workshops at Montfort College, Rotterdam, NL  
 
  
2019 Upcoming: 
 
February: Ms Kathie presents....shows in Baltimore City elementary schools 
Operation Trash workshops, Lyceum Vos high school, NL 
 
March: The Fish Net, elementary school in Vlaardingen, NL 
 
May: Leading a weekend clown workshop with Dresden Medi-Clowns 
 
June: Operation Trash workshop at Mavo Vos, Vlaardingen, NL
Dates 2018
Feb 1- Feb 22: 'Playing in a Cleaner Neigbhorhood” visit elementary school Het Christal in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands
Feb 5 - 7: Operation Trash Workshops at Montfort College, Rotterdam
Feb 21: Rotterdam Baltimore Sister City meeting, De Rotterdam, Wilhelminakade 177
Feb 27: Kathie diStefano presents... an interactive lecture at Somerford, assisted living community, 501 South Harmony Road, Newark, DE, USA
March 5-9: Kathie will be visiting schools in Baltimore, meeting with Baltimore Public Works, Baltimore Rotterdam Sister City Committee, Baltimore Green Maps, among other partners for the Operation Trash Virtual Exchange program.
April – May: Operation Trash Virtual Exchange, linking Lakeland Elementary Middle School in Baltimore with Het Balkon in Maassluis, the Netherlands.
Dates 2017
August 24: Operation Trash Workshops was held at Montfort College, Rotterdam.
mid September: Playing in a Cleaner Neighborhood; a series of after-school workshops at De Schakel, an elementary school located in Vlaardingen.
October 31: Halloween Recycling workshops planned at Filbert Street Community Garden, Baltimore, MD.
November 2: Operation Trash Exchange workshop at Recreational Center in Curtis-Bay, Baltimore.
November 6: Operation Trash presentation-workshop at Enoch Pratt Library, Curtis-Bay, Baltimore.