Helen Budowsky, 13, is a top student at the Beachside Montessori Village. Her goal is to be an environmental engineer. She says she has always been drawn to nature...
"I wanted to garden because I knew it was better to produce your own food because of less packaging. My favorite holiday used to be Earth Day," Helen said.
This year, as Helen prepared for her Bat Mitvah, it was only natural that her service project would combine her love of gardening with the compassion she has for Haiti's orphan children.
A South Florida charity called Hollywood Cares supports a Port-au-Prince orphanage. And that gave Helen an idea.
When Hollywood Cares and children in Haiti came to my attention, I was like, 'Let's teach then how to garden so they can produce their own food,'" Helen said.
But the soil around the orphanage is poor and the ground mostly concrete. So Helen used her own money to by a solar-powered aeroponic growing tower. The system allows plants to grow with no soil by spraying their roots with nutrient-fortified water.
Helen tried it out at home and then traveled to Haiti to teach the children. Together they planted the seeds.
"They didn't know what half the vegetable were," Helen said. "I brought squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, small sweet peppers, a bunch of lettuces and big and cherry tomatoes."
Helen says the growing tower is flourishing.
The 8th grader says she will keep working for a healthier environment for all children, and hopes more young people will be inspired to go green.
"If kids get into it, then the world will get into it," Helen says. "And we're better off."