8-year-old New Yorker cleaning up his neighborhood

Posted at 1:38 PM, Jul 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-31 15:38:04-04

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    New York, NY (WCBS) — It’s no secret heaps of garbage often take over many city streets across all five boroughs.

But when one young New Yorker saw that in his own neighborhood, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

On Tuesday, CBS2’s Reena Roy found out how he’s making a difference in one section of the Bronx.

Cyrille Njikeng walks the streets of Kingsbridge Heights every day with his 8-year-old son, but recently little Zayne had a pressing question.

“I asked my dad: ‘Why do we always have to walk on garbage? Why can’t anybody clean it up?’” Zayne Njikeng said.

“I didn’t know what to say. I was so ashamed. I didn’t know what to tell him. The city don’t clean or people don’t care,” Cyrille Njikeng said.

When words failed, it seemed action was the only option. So father and son geared up and got to work, picking up one piece of litter at a time outside the Kingsbridge Road subway station.

The Njikengs have picked up trash here weekly since the beginning of the month, after a video of their entire family cleaning the area went viral.

“Just posted a video to create an awareness,” Cyrille Njikeng said. “In two days we had 20,000 views and it became a movement.”

Since then, the family has kept a log of their efforts, noticing, despite their best attempts, the garbage is still there.

“I feel very sad because people … they just want to throw trash on the floor when we clean it up,” Zayne Njikeng said.

“Is it responsibility of 8-year-old to clean street? No!” his father added.

Cyrille Njikeng said he’s been in touch with elected officials and several city agencies, but nothing has been done. The Department of Transportation told CBS2 the property is cleaned twice a month and a major cleanup took place on Monday.

But clearly the problem persists, so the family has one simple message.

“When you see garbage on the floor you have to pick it up,” Zayne said.

He’s one small New Yorker just hoping to make life in the big city a little easier for all of us.

A DOT spokesperson said its staff is working on a multi-agency effort to address this in the future.

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