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No-one is too small to make a difference

It is our right that our education should help us learn to live peacefully, protect the environment and respect other people… (Article 29, UN Convention on The Rights of the Child)

If this is our right…what is our responsibility to affect positive change on our environment?

The educators observed and heard the children’s interest, concern and curiosity about local wildlife, endangered species around the world and at the time, the current devastating bushfires in Eastern Australia. The impact of the bushfires on the environment and native Australian wildlife evoked a deep emotional response in the children.

During initial discussions with the children, it was evident that they wanted to be proactive in protecting the environment and making the world a better place. As educators we hope to facilitate experiences to allow the children to feel empowered and understand that their voices are valued. We want them to know that they are active participants in caring for our world and can affect change.

Why do we need to contribute to making the world a better place?

“Because some animals habitats get destroyed and we have to help them find another one or build one to keep safe.” ~ Georgia

“Their habitats are getting destroyed and they are going towards extinction so we need to help.” ~ Lucy

The children had a purpose, they were extremely motivated, what they needed from us was the support to get out into the community, spread their messages and put their ideas into action.

What is possible?

“We are trying to change the world.” ~ Nathan

“We could help make something with a big net that will stop the oil getting to the animals.” ~ Louis

“We can go to the beach and pick up rubbish.” ~ Nathan

“We want to save the wildlife.” ~ Will

“We need to encourage other people to help the wildlife.” ~ Reuben

“We can put up signs.” ~ Lucy

With our rights come accompanying responsibilities. With this right in mind, we also have the responsibility to do what we can to look after our environment.

A belief that children are capable and competent beings, leads us to present real opportunities to affect change by taking ownership of our choices towards a sustainable future. In this way, we move from a growth mindset towards a benefit mindset where we not only seek to fulfil our potential, but choose to do it in a way that promotes wellbeing on both an individual and collective. In believing in the power of the child’s
voice and their genuine ability to make change we have moved to making meaningful contributions in the wider community, rather than experiences being contained within the classroom. It is our hope that the changes that the children make will continue to be alive in the school
community and beyond, now and in the future. This demonstrates the power of children as change-makers and their ability to make ongoing, valuable contributions to society.

An important element of project-based learning is the opportunity to collaborate and support deep learning. As educators we value the children’s’ unique skillsets, personalities, passions and goals so therefore, throughout our projects they engage in diverse elements and experiences. It is not a requirement that each child take on the same role within a project. We help the children to understand that they can achieve at a greater level when they work collaboratively, use peoples strengths as the driving force and all take on a role appropriate for them. On further investigation we discovered that there were three main areas that the children wanted to explore. They each had a specific area or concern that they wanted to address or support.

The educators did not choose the goals of this project, the children have driven each element of this project.
Each child’s idea or goal fitted into one of these categories:

  • Protecting wildlife and assisting those that care for and rehabilitate injured and sick wildlife (Wildlife Team)
  • Protecting and regenerating habitat (Habitat Team)
  • Prevention of pollution in the environment (Pollution Team)

Each of these teams then had many meetings to determine their goals and necessary actions. Each child had an opportunity to share their ideas about what is possible and what we can do to make a difference. We talked about imagining what is possible but also being realistic about what we can achieve. After our initial team meetings each team set a few goals.

Over many months, our project has taken us out into the community to share our message and proactively care for the environment in many different ways.

  • Organise and participate in Clean up Galup (Lake Monger) Day. With the support from Keep Australia Beautiful, we had over 100 members of our community come together to clear the wetland of rubbish.
  • Organise and participate in Beach Clean Up at City Beach. With the support of the Tarangoa Blue Foundation, we collected as much rubbish as we could find from City Beach. We then sorted it and counted it and sent the data back to them.
  • Native tree planting at Galup. With the support of the Town of Cambridge we planted approximately one hundred native seedlings next to the lake.
  • Through the Roots and Shoots group and the Trillion Trees Project we have been lucky enough to get a range of beautiful native plants to plant around our school grounds to create more diversity and habitat for our native wildlife.
  • Creation of an information book about the birds that live at Galup to raise funds for Native Arc and to help our community better understand the magical wetland.
  • Development of a sign to be installed at Galup to promote responsible management of rubbish amongst the members of public that use this space.
  • Meeting with Richard from APACE Nursery to learn about the vegetation native to our local area and what plants would be best suited to our school grounds.
  • Writing and illustrating our own picture books with a message about protecting the Earth.

And still to come from these awesome Wildlife Warriors…

  • Beach Clean Up at Scarborough Beach with Sea Shepherd
  • Fundraiser for Native Arc
  • Visit to Native Arc Widlife rescue to learn about what they do and deliver donations

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“A school has the responsibility not only to engage their community in the pursuit of academic skills but to promote an attitude of life-long learning and thus keep the light alive in children’s eyes.”

Gillian McAuliffe

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