Plant-for-the-Planet is a global children’s initiative that strongly empowers other children to empower each other for more climate justice through an academy day anywhere in the world. An academy day is a full day workshop where children are trained to become “Climate Justice Ambassadors”. On this day they get introduced to what the organisation is about and hear what other trained ambassadors have experienced about this day. They also go through modules that make them understand the world better and how climate change affects everyone, this includes a public speaking training for them to know how do presentations. They eventually plant trees as their first climate justice action having received knowledge of how important trees are. At the end, they come up with green projects they can implement in their schools and community at large. At the end of the academy day they receive a t-shirt, certificate and the “Tree by Tree” book.
For this academy day to become a success in Vulamasango (Open Gates) in Phillipi, Plant-for-the-Planet would like to extend a word of gratitude to the hosting organisation for providing accommodation, catering and resources for the program coordinator in preparation for the academy day. Vulamasango is a child and youth care centre in Phillipi. The organisation was very supportive by providing transport and catering on the day, as well as making sure invited participants feel welcomed and well taken care of. Furthermore, we would like to thank the “South African National Biodiversity Institute” in Kirstenbosch for donating thirty trees to be planted on all the three academy days planned for july in Cape Town. Ten trees were planted in Vulamasango by the climate justice ambassadors, they were very happy. It was amazing to have participants from Baphumelele and Elonwabeni child and youth organisations, we thank them for joining us as well. Lastly, we would really like to appreciate the incredible effort from the volunteers on the day to prepare the catering for everyone, setting up, co-moderating and taking pictures. The volunteers were alumnis, staff and exchange volunteers of Vulamasango.
Special thanks to Anelisa Kama, the facility manager and psychologist of Vulamasango for making sure everything goes well. Tebogo Cyprian Mathaba from SANBI Pretoria and Donavan Fullard from WESSA for connecting us with the SANBI in Cape Town to get the tree donation.
The academy day took place on the 6th of July in Phillipi. There were sixty children who participated on the day. Fifty one children were from twenty six schools/institutions from the poorest and disadvantaged townships in Cape Town namely: Samora Machell, Phillipi, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain etc. Despite it being a rainy day, the youth participants and volunteers helped with setting up and all the participants arrived on time for registration.
The day started off with a warm welcome introduction and energiser to kick start the day with great energy to allow the participants to get to know one another. When we did the participation ground rules, one of the children took the lead and collected the suggestions on the flipchart paper. That to start with was amazing to witness the courage they have. They really enjoyed the “World Game” in groups where they got to know the world and the pollution of different countries better.
The public speaking training and World Cafe where they had to come up with projects they could implement in their schools was one of the highlight modules they really enjoyed. They were really creative and realistic. One of the outstanding school group’s projects was a music dance flashmob “ One Teen, One Tree, One World!” to create awareness where they start speeches when they grabbed people’s attention! One of the groups planned to implement their project in their community the following Saturday. Everybody had light refreshments and proper lunch during the course of the academy day. They received their t-shirts and eventually received their certificates with the tree by tree book. It was an amazing successful day, however due to the rainy weather we planted a few days later.
This part of the academy was fun yet interesting because it rained again on the day we planned to plant. The ambassadors were really active and excited to lead the planting themselves, it was amazing to see them motivated to take initiative to plant more trees. We would like to thank Mr. Mpendulo Gabayi from the South African National Biodiversity Institute for making sure we receive the exact requested tree donation amount. The ten trees were planted successfully due to the help of gardening experts from Vulmasango.
The academy day really inspired a lot of the participants, especially one of the youth participants Siphesihle Sinare (19 years old) who really was keen to take part on the next academy days voluntarily. She truly showed her genuine interest by constantly following up on how to become a program coordinator and how one can impact beyond the academy. I explained the process to her, how things run and how to start a climate justice club. She furthermore connected with other highly motivated ambassadors who she approached to be part of the club, she is currently organising a meeting to develop articles of association to govern the club in Samora Machell where she plans to contact schools for more academy days. Siphesihle and her team aim to empower the township children and youth to convince adults to stop talking and start planting. They plan to support and strengthen the voice of children especially the trained ambassadors through workshops and big platforms to convince local government also on global crisis.
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