Wednesday, April 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


NGO ropes in children to spread ecology message
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, April 23
Creating awareness on environmental issues has become a vital method to save the environment. Youngsters, particularly schoolchildren, have emerged as an effective medium to spread the word and also do the needful by creating an example for others to emulate.

Of late, schools and some NGOs have started laying emphasis on the need for generating awareness and involving the children in projects that have a social value. Projects such as those about saving the environment have become a part of the curriculum, much to the relief of the environmentalists.

Navdanya (meaning nine seeds), an NGO working for ecological and environmental conservation and a leader in organic farming, has launched one such initiative of roping in children from over 12 zones in the country to create ecological awareness. A six-month campaign will see children from over 200 schools in the country participate and pool resources to spread the message.

The coordinator of Navdanya, Scott Sinclair, told ‘NCR Tribune’, “We want to create a sense of awareness in the children. Only when they begin to understand the importance of the most critical of earth’s resources can they begin to teach their elders.”

Navdanya is organising a series of workshops at which children are invited to participate in activities like poster-making, painting, banner-making, poetry writing and skits. The best projects from each school will be displayed in the Capital’s Mother’s International School on April 26.

“Navdanya is preparing these children for the International Children’s Earth Summit in South Africa backed by the UN scheduled to take place in Johannesburg in August later this year. The best entries from all over the country will meet in Dehra Dun for a week-long eco-camp at Bija School Vidyapeeth. Here, they will be exposed to a gamut of activities ranging from farm tours to organic cultural activities,” pointed out Sinclair.

The children will also be given a chance to assess themselves and vote for the 10 leaders who will eventually participate in the event in Johannesburg.

“Sometime back, we had some visitors from South Africa who told us about the activities that were undertaken by the children there. Dr Vandana Shiva who heads

Navdanya hit upon the idea to involve the children in the country for a similar programme. There are about a dozen schools in the Capital that are involved with us. Participating schools will gather information about local environmental concerns and carry out action plans to improve their community environment,” adds Sinclair.

Navdanya is also compiling a book, ‘The Children’s Earth Report’, on issues that have been researched by the children. “We provide children a form that they need to fill and based on the reports we are compiling a book, which will later be released in Johannesburg. We are basically trying to involve the children to take up issues like cleaning the neighbourhood park or saying no to plastic bags,” says Sinclair.

The project is being backed by NGOs from South Africa and the UK. Navdanya is aiming to use this movement to drive home the message to children that real sustainability comes from solutions we develop ourselves.


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