Are your childhood memories filled with images of the outdoors? Mine certainly are. Growing up in Colorado, I spent my youth hiking the expansive Rockies, swimming in clear blue lakes, and playing in fresh, powdery snow. The weatherman was our prophet and the mountains our master. But it wasn’t until I reached adulthood that I recognized the connection between my personal actions and the existence of these natural phenomena I had come to take for granted. Clean air, open space, and abundant water supplies may not be available for future generations of children to enjoy if we don’t make major societal changes – and soon.
Public information campaigns, word-of-mouth promotions, and grassroots efforts to spread the word about the dire importance of environmental conservation have opened the eyes of many, but truly transforming our society into one that focuses on sustainability as a whole must raise entire generations who practice sustainable living. Since spreading awareness of environmental causes is vital to the movement’s success, what better way to ensure impactful, positive change than to start by focusing on children?
Nature’s majesty provides incredible learning and enrichment opportunities, so it’s no surprise that environmental education programs have shown positive effects on mental and physical health, academic success, and critical living skills of participating students. In a world where children are becoming less and less connected with nature, emphasizing the importance of sustainability from a young age is more important than ever.
Greenschools, a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization, promotes eco-friendly ideals by providing environmental education programs and resources to schools. The mission of the Greenschools program is to “protect the health of every individual in our schools and our planet by teaching how to make more environmentally respectful and responsible decisions”. Greenschools offers assemblies, workshops, staff trainings, and community sessions in personalized kid-friendly formats. A youth band, The Green Rockers, and a reuse mascot named The Bag Monster are available to entertain at school events. The Green Schools Summit, a large-scale convention, and The Green Diference Awards allow community members to become personally engaged in the environmental movement. A unique aspect of the organization is the Green Student Ambassadors program, a project that engages students by providing them with opportunities to be activists as well as learners. Participating students learn leadership skills and environmental stewardship through service hours, meetings, and collective events, encouraging learning and teamwork through eco-friendly practices.
Programs like Greenschools provide an active solution to the growing problem of children becoming distanced from nature and widely unaware of the importance of environmental conservation. Through the work of Greenschools and similar organizations, meaningful change is being enacted at a primary level – with our children. To find out more about Greenschools and read more about environmental education, visit www.projectgreenschools.com.
Check out this cool video about the Green Schools Ambassadors Program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we6An9xy4u4&feature=youtu.be