By Anaitée Mills
Shashamane Sunrise holds many school visits during the year to follow up on its model schools and continues its community involvement through volunteer visits to children homes in Jamaica, but there is one visit in particular that I always look forward to being part of, and that is the Earth Day visit.
The Earth Day visit usually happens in the month of April, in observance of Earth Day, which is an annual event celebrated on April 22 marking the birth of the modern environmental movement. Events are coordinated globally in more than 193 countries by the Earth Day Network to demonstrate support for environmental protection.
Why is this day so important for Shashamane Sunrise?
We at Shashamane Sunrise strongly believe education is the foundation for progress. We need to build a global citizenry fluent in its understanding of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet. We need to empower everyone with the knowledge necessary to inspire action in defense of our environment.
The theme for this year’s Earth Day celebrations was Environmental & Climate Literacy. Climate literacy is an understanding of your influence on the climate and climate’s influence on you and society. The topic resonated deeply with us from the moment we began preparations for our visit to the National Baptist Basic School (NBBS) located in Trench Town, Jamaica. Since NBBS is an inner-city school with students aged three to six years old, we knew that the visit needed to include interactive and creative workshops that would not only expose children to environmental topics such as recycling, pollution, and the importance of loving and protecting the earth but that would also get them excited and involved… and boy did they get involved!
Promoting environmental literacy is an enormous undertaking that that must begin in early childhood years when children are sponges ready to absorb all kinds of knowledge. Those years are especially influential in attaining lifelong climate awareness.
Every student in the world needs to graduate from high school with a full understanding the environmental issues we currently face, and must be ready to take action and be the voice for change. After all, our children are the leaders of tomorrow. By stimulating and promoting environmental awareness in students, we are not only offering our communities with the type of knowledge that will empower them in the future, but we are also creating green voters who will advance environmental and climate policies and ensure that the generations yet to come will also have the opportunity to celebrate Earth Day.
Anaitée Mills is a Project Manager/Climate Change Expert at IDB and Shash Jamaica Volunteer.