Young environmentalists from Mpophomeni, dubbed ‘Green Heroes’, are determined to make a difference in the world after enjoying the wonder of nature at the Green Heroes Indaba 2015, held in Umgeni Valley in Howick. The Wildlands’ Green Heroes initiative, funded by N3 Toll Concession (N3TC), exposes children from communities around the province to nature – through time spent in reserves learning about the environment and leadership.
Sixteen Green Hero learners in grades 5, 6, and 7 from Zamuthule, Nhlanhleni and Sifisisihle Primary schools in Mpophomeni learnt the importance of leading by example in their schools and community and being pioneers for local environmental action. They discussed and sought solutions to the environmental and social challenges plaguing our society.
Having not been exposed to nature previously, their interest in it grew as they became more knowledgeable about the environment and participated in various activities. They explored the Shelter Falls trail and adventured through the Nature Reserve crossing the river and experiencing the wildlife. They also participated in activities such as Blind Square, which teaches about leadership and working in a team; the climate change picture building game, and conducted MiniSASS tests: a citizen science tool to test river health.
Over the three days, they learnt more about themselves and discovered ways of improving their immediate surroundings. An ecstatic Akhona Nxele from Sifisisihle Primary School, who particularly enjoyed the Shelter Falls trail, commented, “the beauty of this place has made me realise how important it is to care for our environment and never destroy it.”
Sisanda Mthethwa from Zamuthule Primary vowed that she would encourage her peers to keep the environment clean. “I will ask them to stop littering and instead recycle papers, bottles and plastics as that can give us money and enable us to live in a much cleaner environment.”
Green Leadership Manager, Manqoba Sabela, urged the Green Heroes to emulate human rights activist Mahatma Ghandi’s philosophy, “to be the change they want to see in the world”. Green Heroes are a younger version of Wildlands’ Ubuntu Earth Ambassadors – individuals who are passionate about the environment and their communities, who promote active citizenship by holding events, dubbed ‘Citizen Days’. These highlight special days on the calendar and promote activities such as clean ups, tree planting and river monitoring. The young Green Heroes will continue to promote environmental awareness by participating in and assisting with Citizen Days held by Ambassadors in their communities.