It's easy to get disillusioned or jaded when working in the conservation field. The feeling that no matter how hard you work to protect our environment, there will always be bigger and more powerful forces working against you.
Working with children can ease this feeling. I was just in Viareggio, Italy working on the #Batti5 project with Worldrise this past week for my internship. As described in my previous post about #Batti5, this project was developed to educate children about the impacts of plastic pollution in our oceans. The goal is create educational programs in which kids can learn about the issue, participate in beach clean-ups, and work on art projects with the collected plastic to understand that these items can be turned into new items.
During the week we worked with three different elementary schools; Scuola "Leone Sbrana", Scuola Lambruschini, and Scuola E. Jenco, as well as the Biblioteca Immaginaria dei Ragazzi di Viareggio. Monday we spent the day at each school and the Biblioteca presenting a lesson to the children to introduce the issue of marine plastics and the importance of our ocean. The kids were very well-informed about the dangers of plastics to marine animals and how this can move up the food chain and eventually end up on our plate. Tuesday and Wednesday we organized beach clean-ups where kids collected only plastics such as cups, straws, toys, bags, etc. They quickly realized the quantity of plastic found along their beaches. Some groups collected up to 8 kilos of plastic in just a short 40-minute period. Although you can easily become overwhelmed with the amount of plastic found strewn along the beach, it's also refreshing to see our future generations so excited and thrilled to help make a difference and clean-up their environment.
Thursday and Friday, the children took part in art projects filing in marine animals on a poster board with the collected pieces of plastic they had found. This last part of #Batti5 is crucial because it helps students understand that this durable material which can last for hundreds to thousands of years can be easily up-cycled and turned into something new rather than just using it once and throwing it out. #Batti5 gives you hope and strength to continue educating, raising awareness, and fighting for the protection our planet Earth. Our future generations need to be educated on these urgent issues now so they can grow up to become leaders, speakers, role models, and stewards of our environment. There is too much at stake and too much still worth saving to give up now.