Siruthuli (meaning ‘a small drop’ in Tamil), a Coimbatore-based organisation that works on water conservation projects and afforestation of the region, also engages with children. Managing Trustee of Siruthuli, Ms. Vanitha Mohan, talks about ‘Chittukkaludan Siruthuli’, their weekly programme that is targeted at children – “Children are taken through a whole gamut of activities to bring them closer to Mother Nature. They become very aware about the need to protect the River Noyyal which passes through the city, to protect and preserve the green cover of the region, as well as the need to create more lung spaces and to minimise generation of garbage.” Mohan talks about how her young volunteers are dedicated to the different causes they are involved in. “In fact, we had about 8000 people walk at a rally on World Environment Day on June 5th this year and, of them, more than fifty percent were children!”
Another such NGO is Kids for Tigers. Ms. Usha Ramaiah, the Coordinator for Kids for Tigers in Bangalore, speaks eloquently about the importance of the tiger to India. While the disappearance of the tiger is only one of the environmental issues plaguing our country, the tiger functions as the symbol of the environmental health of India, since the survival of the tiger in the wild is linked with the survival of all of the diverse natural richness that India is gifted with. The NGO organises a number of activities, such as audio-visual shows, nature walks, projects, exhibitions, rallies, celebration of eco days, inter-school fests, art for conservation and nature club activities in school, to sensitise children to the environment. Their programme is an integral part of 275 schools and as many as 500,000 students in 15 cities in India participate in it.
Here are some other NGOs that actively encourage student volunteers. Many of these organisations also work with schools to encourage youth participation:
- The Jane Goodall Institute is active in India and works with schools to enhance environmental awareness
- Roots & Shoots, founded by the Jane Goodall Institute, involves young people from across 120 countries, and empowers them to bring positive change to their environment. The volunteers are encouraged to identify problems in their communities and take appropriate action
- Swechha is a Delhi-based NGO that is youth-run and focuses on environmental issues. Beginning with the ‘We for Yamuna’ campaign in 2000, it now covers a number of environmental issues affecting India Music, dance and drama are extracurricular activities that are commonly pursued by children all over India.
Activities that involve working to save the environment also count as extra-curricular, but are generally not given enough attention by parents and children alike. Did you know that there are colleges around the world that take into account ‘save the planet’ activities when you are applying to them for admission? ‘A 3-year old boy’s voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.’ No parent will dispute that children can very effectively voice their opinions and ask questions! So why not put these questioning and eager young minds to good use? As Dr. Lowman comments, today’s children form the ‘Solutions Generation’ and can collaborate together on issues bigger than them.