ZULULAND: More than 30 learners from a school for special educational needs in KwaDukuza, north of Durban have been given the opportunity to get their hands dirty for good reason! The children from the Stanger Training Centre spent the day at the WESSA Twinstreams Education Centre in Mtunzini, Zululand today, as part of the Trees4KZN project, a conservation initiative spearheaded by NPO, Blue Sky Society Trust.
There was excitement all around as the children, from Grades 6 to 12, and five teachers received hands-on education about the importance of protecting South Africa’s indigenous forests. They were guided through an interpretive trail forest study, learned about the key role forests and trees play in sustaining all life on Earth, and how they serve crucial cultural, ecological, social and economic functions. The WESSA education programme spans 12-months and includes the planting of 20 indigenous trees at the school to create a biodiversity garden that will serve as a learning tool.
All this was made possible after the Umhlanga Women Achievers group raised more than
R 40 000 for Blue Sky Society Trust’s Trees4KZN initiative last year, and the Stanger Training Centre was selected for the year-long programme at WESSA.
As an eco-school for the past 12-years, the Stanger Training Centre has been empowering young minds to create positive sustainable impact on our planet’s future. Today’s experience saw the learners receiving invaluable advice and knowledge from individuals working on the frontlines of conservation. “As the future leaders and environmentalists of this country, the children need to be educated about the current environmental issues facing our natural resources, and then be empowered to take control of these issues. The enthusiasm, passion and creativity that nature brings out of the youth, results in active citizens who are willing to stand up and be heard,” explains Matthew Cocks, General Manager of WESSA Education Centres.
For Blue Sky Society Trust founder, Carla Geyser, education is the cornerstone of addressing environmental concerns. “The earth is being destroyed by deforestation, pollution, overpopulation and climate change. It is vital that we reconnect children with nature and teach them why it’s important to look after their one and only ‘home.’ I am always moved and humbled to see the excitement and enthusiasm in the children’s faces, and the passion that the WESSA educators put into their work. We are aiming to plant 1 000 trees each year as part of our Trees4KZN project and would love more corporates, individuals and associations to come on board.”
It was a heart-warming moment too for Esther Bishop, President of Umhlanga Women Achievers, the NPO that funded the experience for children from the Stanger Training Centre. “We have committed to performing monthly random acts of kindness throughout the year for various charities and have one main charity that we support at out yearly fundraiser. We were excited to have Trees4KZN as our main charity as it is a fantastic initiative and helps improve lives, as well as being beneficial for the environment.”
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1: More than 30 learners from Stanger Training Centre spent the day at the WESSA Twinstreams Education Centre in Mtunzini, Zululand learning about the importance of protecting South Africa’s indigenous forests.
2: The learners received hands-on lessons as part of the Trees4KZN initiative from experts including WESSA’s Ntokozo Msane, who work on the frontlines of conservation.
3: WESSA’s Raymond Ngubane explains to children from the special needs school, Stanger Training Centre, why we need to protect our indigenous forests.