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Project 90 visits Fairmont High

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Using playdough is a great way to express ideas for a bright future

Tapping into the contribution of young people’s enthusiasm, drive and fresh approach plays an important role in deciding on actions that could mitigate the effects of climate change. At Project 90, Leadership Clubs discover and nurture young South Africans to become environment conscious leaders and decision makers. Part of the journey involves understanding what the youth are thinking about the green movement; and terms like “sustainability” and “the environment.” When we understand what drives and motivates young people we will be better able to tailor our communication to this audience, who are in process of inheriting the challenges of adapting to climate change. It is also an audience that is widely varied due to the gross inequalities that exist in South African society.

I went along with Hin Wah, our Communicating Change Programme Manager to Fairmont High School. Their Green Society hosted an Earth Hour celebration where a number of green initiatives and students showcased their ideas.

Armed with a few buckets of environment friendly play dough, we did some research and find out what these young people were thinking by asking questions and expressing answers by forming the play dough.

This was a great way of circumventing the usual auto piloted answers one could expect – due to repeatedly hearing the same messages from various outside sources. This way we could be sure no-one would “google” the answer either! It was interesting to discover what the youth’s true feelings, opinions and attitudes were.

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All students were keen to explore what their hands would create

The students were really deeply engaged with the process of accessing their ideas through the play dough. Boys and girls alike closed their eyes and concentrated. We were struck by their open attitudes, friendliness, good manners and innovative ideas. Almost all the students expressed how deeply they cared for the world and for others as well. One girl made a flower and said she wanted to make the world beautiful. A boy had a brainy scheme of inventing an apparatus that would get closer to the sun and create a link to an energy grid we could all link in to. Another boy created a puppy as he felt that puppies made people feel better. He said that if everyone feels better they would treat one another well and this would lead to a better world.

So often young people are presented with ideas of how we see things and it was truly refreshing to hear their opinions and ideas being voiced.

By the time it was time for us to leave, we discovered that the young people we met that day had turned a bare canvass of a table into a display of their own. On it were expressed their ideals and visions to make the world a better place for all living beings and a desire to preserve and conserve the environment for many future generations.

Gillian Parenzee, Programme Adminitrator

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