Linda Freeman - Engaging, Educating, Empowering
We are pleased to congratulate Instigator Linda Freeman on receiving the Statewide Energy Innovator Award from ReThink Energy Florida.
Because Linda was not able to travel to the award presentation earlier this summer, a presentation is scheduled at a meeting of The Children's Trust in Miami on November 16.
Kim Ross, President of ReThink Energy Florida, will present the award at that time.
These excerpts from the nomination, modified slightly to reflect the passage of several months, explain the ways in which Linda made a difference in sustainability and energy issues.
Engaging In the Community
Linda engaged in several different groups of people spanning continents, ages, genders, and occupations with the KidPower2015 Project. Linda and her team created model bicycle generators with a clean energy curriculum.
A teacher at Hollywood Elementary School collaborated with Linda to test the project in her classooms. KidPower2015 was then taken into 11 Florida prisons with Children of Inmates, Inc. so children could interact with their parents.
In August the KidPower2015 project was taken to the Light of the Future Schools in Cambodia. The team was invited to the Oracle Users' Group Community Service Day to highlight the possibilities of clean energy improving the world.
Linda and her team created the curriculum for #KidPower2015 to coincide with Earth Day 2015. The clean energy curriculum she and her team had designed was presented to children in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, Florida and Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Through the project, the children utilized bicycle generators to power blenders; developed engineering and math skills while learning a simple, clean energy technology to generate electricity; explored environmental protection and conservation needs in their countries; shared their learning experiences through video-conferencing; and utilized the creative arts to express Earth Day Network’s 2015 theme, It’s Our Turn To Lead.
This project empowered individuals in myriad ways. The most powerful way was enabling children of incarcerated parents and their parents to spend time together while learning and having fun. When the children worked with their parents to make fruit smoothies by pedaling bikes, and experienced the joy of learning together, for that period of time they were like any other parent and child: bonding and learning together.
Destiny and Annabelle, the two student leaders of #KidPower2015 (and also children of incarcerated parents) were empowered to be young women who felt comfortable with technical material, and confident presenting it via videoconferencing. Their lives are changed and empowered.
How Linda Innovates
Linda and her team have innovated through the application of everyday items and activities to provide clean energy where there were few other alternatives. KidPower2015 provided over 300 children and their caregivers with a learning opportunity surrounding clean energy and provided a learning activity for 300 more children, as well as electricity at a school in Cambodia.
In 2014 in a village outside Phnom Penh, Linda and team constructed a biogas digester to turn human and animal waste into energy, eliminating firewood cooking. Firewood cooking causes respiratory issues and can prove to be a difficult resource as villagers must scavenge or purchase firewood.
I have never actually met Linda, but when I chose to nominate her for this award, I did so because week after week when I read her blogs and see her other activities on social media, I am struck by the way she channels her engineering background and intellect into changing lives for the better.
As a mother of a daughter, I also especially appreciate young women like Destiny and Annabelle being given educational and leadership tools which will be assets as they grow into young adulthood.
Linda's projects at Florida prisons also resonate with me, because I do volunteer work at a local prison. To a person, every inmate I have dealt with who is a parent talks first of their children before anything else. These inmates and their kids may think they're making smoothies with bicycle-generated energy, but I know they are making something much more permanent thanks to Linda's ability to engage, educate, and empower.
Editor's Note: Linda and her daughter, Daniella, are currently working on raising money to provide shoes to the 600 children in Kratie province, Cambodia, where her team started Light of Future School. The shoes are The Shoe That Grows, which lasts for 5 years/5 sizes.