Deland Chan

Sixteen-year-old Deland Chan led a group of teens in the creation of an urban oasis in the midst of the concrete jungle that is New York City. In September of 2000, Chan started an environmental group at the 92nd Street YMCA.

Together the members are restoring a neglected garden, including surveying the soil to determine what plants are already there, researching which types of plants are native to Manhattan and which are invasive, and organizing a series of cleanup efforts. "There is no such thing as passive apathy -- every single move counts," said Chan. "If you feel personally that you don’t have the energy or the type of commitment to go ahead and lead an entire project -- that’s fine. But, be supportive of those that are and at least read a newspaper and see what is going on and educate yourself, and that will be doing your part," she said.

Chan initiated the project as part of Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots program.

To My Hero's Jane Goodall page.

Page created on 3/22/2006 11:08:49 AM

Last edited 3/17/2020 10:22:09 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Extra Info

Deland Chan was interviewed for
This is a Project of The Institute for America's Future
AUDIO: Click here to to listen Deland Chan

Fowler: Through an environmental club that she founded at the 92nd Street YMCA, 16-year-old Deland Chan carved out her own oasis amidst the concrete jungle that is New York City.

Chan: We chose to work with Angela Hadwin of Inwood Hill Park. And, she basically gave us this restoration project. There's a garden that's adjacent to the ecology center at Inwood. And she said, 'Hey you know there's a garden here that has been neglected for the past five years. If you are interested in restoring it, I will be here to mentor you.' We've been carrying out this restoration from beginning to end. Including surveying soil to see what plants are already in there, what types of plants are native to Manhattan, what are invasive.

Fowler: I asked Chan why she feels it's important for youth to get involved in the environment and their communities.

Chan: The truth is we are going to be the adults of what's coming around. I feel like a lot of adults today are not necessarily concerned about what's going around them so when you start having a generation build from there, starting earlier, maybe you can have a generation of better adults.

Fowler: And Chan says there is no such thing as passive apathy. We all have a part. Even if it means simply educating ourselves about the issues. I'm Stacey Folwer.

More Links

Environmental News Network


Author Info

On October 13, 2001 Deland Chan was honored with the Brower Youth Award for her contribution for creating a garden project at the 92nd Street Y . Her speech touched on life after Sept 11 2001. Here is an excerpt from the speech she made at the awards ceremony.

Now is the time is unite and expand the matrix of human support. It is the time to grow stronger, not weaker. Repopulate the garden with philosophers, creators, skeptics. Rebuild.

Most importantly, let the joy of human capacity triumph again. Thank you.