REPORT ON FIRST PLANT FOR THE PLANET ACADEMY WORKSHOP IN ACCRA On 12th October 2012, Youth Volunteers for the Environment – YVE Ghana in collaboration with Plant for the Planet organized a training program on ‘’Environment, Climate Change and Renewable Energy’’ for pupils from 12 schools at the ICT Room of the Professor John Evans Atta Mills Centre of Excellence within the Salvation Army Cluster of Schools in Mamprobi, Accra. The workshop, which was organized in line with plant for the planet Academy guidelines, was aimed at empowering the youth with knowledge on climate change, tree planting and environment as well as inspiring youth to be climate justice ambassadors and take action within their schools, communities and homes to help reduce the impact of climate change on the environment. Participants included three students and a teacher from each of the twelve participating schools besides the 6 facilitators. The workshop was under the chairmanship of the circuit supervisor, Mr. Martin Ampima and was moderated by Mr. Lovans Owusu-Takyi the organizer of the whole program. The workshop kick started at 9:00am with participants from the participating schools thronging to the conference hall for proceedings to get underway. The workshop got underway with an opening prayer by Ms. Christabel Badu to usher the whole events into the hands of the ALMIGHTY GOD. After the opening prayer, Mr. Gideon Marcel the MC and co-facilitator with Lovans led the participants to introduce themselves and share their expectations and why they are interested in or involved in environmental conservation and tree planting. There were very interesting responses that came up. The program begun with a short description on the pros and cons of climate change, environment and tree planting as the participants were taken through a series of an in depth and analytical topical assessments of the issues that were tabled down to be discussed by Gideon Commey. Then there was a presentation by Christabel Badu explaining the evidence of Climate change and tree planting using the Plant for the Planet Presentation. She made reference to how climate change is impacting communities in Africa and the need for us all to take action and plant trees. Also using the example of Felix who started the plant for the planet in Europe she expressed that, everyone can do it no matter how young we are and we can start now. She stressed the urgency that we all need to move forward to achieve the goals of reducing climate change. Gideon Commey added his voice to explain some critical highlights of the presentation. Afterwards there was a presentation by the Programs Director of Ubuntu Africa, Mr. Peter Mensah who took the participants through the Ubuntu model where participants were encouraged to pay utmost credence to the model. The Ubuntu model consisted of pacts which enabled the individual to study and analyze issues critically, answer one question at a time and keep issues confidential. These pacts were vital to the educational makeup of both the teachers and the students to enable them absorb key ideals. After the presentation on the Ubuntu model, Mr. Lovans Owusu-Takyi outlined the menacing effects of climate change globally and particularly on African countries like Ghana. He also explained in simple terms the importance of energy and how it is to use energy efficiently. He said CC has become a development issue and affects all aspects of our lives not only on the environment. He stressed on the need for the youth, environmental stakeholders and schools to advocate for dynamic environmental measures which will augment the developmental trends of the country and the world as a whole. He said that many floods, earthquakes, earth tremors, volcanoes and other catastrophic disasters that hit the world are as a result of global warming and climate change. He made a clarion call to the participants to incept very strong and vibrant environmental clubs that will spearhead the activities of the environment at the grass root levels and present proposals to influence policies to the government and the ministry in charge of environment. After the presentation by Mr. Owusu-Takyi, the participants were entertained to a very captivating and educative video which showed the catastrophic disasters which many countries from different race, language and colour are faced with. The video conveyed a vital message to the participants, making some develop goose pimples at the sight of catastrophic disasters suffered by some countries, with many languishing abject impoverishment, squalor, hunger, drought and all manner of sordidness. (lol) Group work: The participants were then divided into groups to discuss the issues of climate change and map out strategies for educating their peers, impacting government, taking action in schools as well as their communities to reduce climate change. The groups were described by what activity should be focused on. The first group was named 60 minutes – this group try to find what they will do within 60 mins in school to educate their peers on climate change. The second group was named 2020 who are thinking of medium term actions that they will do to bring about sustained change in their community. And the third group called 2050 was to discuss long term policy issues that they will do to influence governments policies to ensure that climate and environmental policies are well adapted to the needs of the country to reduce its impact on the citizens. The forth and five group respectively also discussed what general activities kids can do to reduce climate change and educate people in their schools and communities. How to become good climate justice ambassadors and what simple things they can do. The sixth group discussed what challenges faces them in their environmental club activities and what they can do to strengthen environmental clubs in schools by themselves and make it a good and active environmental clubs. The teachers were also divided into two groups to discuss what they can do to support the kids to be environmentally friendly, how they can integrate environmental and climate change education in their teaching as well as what they can do to strengthen environmental clubs activities. The second teacher group looked at the challenges they face whiles they work with environmental clubs and what their needs are to be able to ensure effective club activities. After the group work there were presentations by group members and also one for the teachers group. The kids groups dramatized, recited a poetry, sung and did other literary activities to convey their message to the audience. It was just fascinating to see these young ones putting their talents on display. At the end of the first grouping session and presentation, the second grouping session was among school clubs – where each school with their teacher try to brainstorm on an action plan on how they will ensure increased environmental activities and education in their schools and reduce the impact of climate change. After the group activity, there was a presentation on environment, climate change and renewable energy by the Executive Director of YVE Ghana, Mr. Lovans Owusu-Takyi. In his speech he focused more on how important it was for these youth and school clubs to adhere to good environmental practices in planting trees around and advocating for their schools to implement very useful policies that will enhance active environmental activities in schools and the establishment of school gardens. He also talked about taking the climate pledge and how it is important for the participants to use the training received and be part of the global movement taking action on climate change. After the presentation, the participants took the climate pledge as they were inducted as ambassadors, Then there was the presentation of certificates to the participants. Mr. Ampima, the chairman for the occasion gave his closing remarks and commended both Plant for the Planet and YVE Ghana for that wonderful initiative. He pledged to ensure that the environmental clubs in the school grow by providing them with ample time to do activities. The participants together with the organizers took a group picture Mr Lovans also took the participants through how to plant trees and the importance of trees and then they planted trees in the school compound. The participants were then provided refreshment after the workshop and then the program was brought to a close.
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