Girls photography program organizes a beach-clean up to help their community

What can be accomplished when someone decides that instead of complaining about circumstances in their community, they can lend a helping hand? That is exactly what Nataki Hewling and some of the members of the HERShot program did when they had a beach clean-up at Midland Beach* in Staten Island, New York.

Hewling, is a photo professional who has worked for Scholastic, Inc., TIME, Inc. and is the founder of HERShot, a visual storytelling photography program for young girls. After the HerShot program received a grant to create a docuseries about how the pandemic affected local artists, she felt it was important for the girls to give back to the community that supported them.

The beach clean-up idea came about when they were making plans to have a beach party. They all realized that their local beach wasn't very clean; therefore, they would need to go to New Jersey. But instead of going to New Jersey, they decided to grab some trash bags and have a beach clean-up. The idea resonated since Midland Beach is their community beach. Hewling commented, "We probably didn't do much to help the environment that day, but it's a small step to teaching the girls how to change things and how to bring about change."

HerShot beach clean-up and party

Although filling up a few bags of trash may seem like an insignificant contribution, it most certainly was enough. Everybody who picked up trash that day learned exactly what ends up in the oceans, and by prioritizing a beach clean-up, they helped their community and lifted a little more weight off the ecosystem. Additionally, sharing their clean-up experience surely sparked inspiration and encouragement for others—young and old—to believe they can do something to help.

Watch the Keep Me Posted with Planet Aid video (above) for the interview with Nataki Hewling and to learn more about the HerShot beach clean-up. For more about the HERShot program, see

What can you do to help the environment? Being a good steward of the environment is not a one-size-fits-all solution so do what you can, and resolve to do more. Read the Planet Aid blog to find out about some of the latest innovations to clean up waterways around the world. According to the United Nations' Sustainable Development website, "Roughly 80 percent of marine and coastal pollution originates on land - including agricultural run-off, pesticides, plastics and untreated sewage." The U.N. has designated the improvement of "Life Below Water" as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to meet by 2030.

*As of the latest sample taken on July 31, 2021, Staten Island's Midland Beach meets water standards according to "Swim Guide,' a website that updates New York beaches with information from