FOUNTAIN VALLEY : Students Organize Recycling Project

Coastline Community College students Sue Colman and Ryan Lane have come up with a classroom project that not only encourages people to recycle but also raises money for students who have suffered traumatic head injuries.

Colman, 48, of Laguna Hills, and Lane, 22, of Orange, are enrolled in the Fountain Valley-based college's Traumatic Head-Injury Program. The program, with an enrollment of between 90 and 100 full-time students, provides "cognitive retraining," or retraining in thinking skills, for adults who have suffered head injuries.

A year ago, the two students presented a class report on the need for recycling. But they took their class assignment a step further by planning, organizing and eventually opening a recycling center at the college's Costa Mesa campus, the site where the Traumatic Head-Injury Program is offered.

The recycling center, at the corner of Baker Street and Mesa Verde Drive in Costa Mesa, opened July 1. Recycling containers have also been placed around the campus. Students said they hope to eventually expand the recycling effort at the college's other learning centers in Fountain Valley, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Westminster.

The project is a collaborative effort among the college, Orange Coast College Recycling Center and Western Waste Industries of Irvine, which donated the 22-foot-long recycling container, said Michelle Wild, the students' teacher, an instructor and coordinator of special programs.

Wild said the college's Student Advisory Council awarded a $1,500 grant to the students to start the recycling effort.

Money raised from the recycling program will go toward buying classroom materials and computer equipment for the Traumatic Head-Injury Program, Wild said. There are also plans to set up a scholarship fund and offer book grants for students enrolled in the program, she said.

Wild said that often brain-injured adults lose self-confidence as a result of their memory loss, impaired logical reasoning and problem-solving skills or language disabilities.

"But the recycling project really helped to build their self-esteem," she said. "They were able to take the skills learned in the classroom from inception to successfully starting the program."

Colman, who has a brain injury from a car accident more than 25 years ago, said the project has helped her to set goals and have a sense of accomplishment.

"It started out as a vision, and I'm just proud that the idea sparked into such a big thing," said Lane, who has also suffered a brain injury.

The recycling center in Costa Mesa is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The public is encouraged to drop off recyclable items such as glass, newspaper, cardboard, aluminum cans, office paper and colored paper.

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