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Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

Katie Gavenus, 'Children of the Spills' director, was just two years old when the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Alaska, and it caused anxiety throughout her childhood.

'As we grew up the bigger impact became the litigation, and the frustration over this long drawn out court battle,' said Gavenus.

So the BP oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico brought back too many bad memories.

'It was awful. It made me angry and upset, and really sad, and confused all at the same time.'

But Katie is now an environmental educator, and started a project called 'Children Of The Spills' to document the impact of two catastrophies on young people. First she talked to those in Alaska, whose lives have never been the same, like Evan Beetle, who told Eyewitness News when we visited in 2010 that he was a fisherman in Cordova, Alaska before the Exxon Valdez spill.


'It just turned me around and made me find a new career. I had to give up my way of life,' said Bettle.

'One piece is just giving an arena for kids to tell their stories. But then the other goal really is to learn from what happened in Alaska, and what kids in Alaska experienced, and what they wished had been available to them, so that more of that can be availble to kids down here,' said Gavenus.

Katie spent the last month in Southeast Louisiana talking to 200 young people about the impact of the BP spill.

'I definitely heard a lot of frustration. Some of that frustration was aimed at the oil companies, some of that frustration was aimed at the government, some of that frustration at the cleanup process down here,' said Gavenus.

But she said Louisiana children told her that adults are listening to and helping them with their fears and frustrations, and they shared drawings about their hopes for recovery in the gulf.

'I interviewed a girl yesterday, and she was saying some things that it took me about twenty years to get to that point myself, and she was there two years later, realizing we can't let this destroy us,' said Gavenus.

'With the various service organizations and community providers that are still working to figure out how do we help people after the oil spill, and how do we help kids after the oil spill. So I've provded them the information that I have from Alaska, this is what kids wished they had had in Alaska, and the information I'm hearing here, and this is what kids still need.'

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