Youth Empowerment for the Green Campaign
Environmental problems have become adversely diverse and extensively threatening in the modern times. In the past, humanity was only dealing with a simple pollution problem but now the enormous world population, climate change, global warming, and many other serious problems are already endangering the Earth and every life form.
Scientists, environmentalists and experts have been working together to discover scientific breakthroughs and other methods to address the aggravating issues. Environmental organizations and concerned citizens are also doing their part to contribute in the effort to save Mother Earth.
It’s very inspiring to know that some people commit their lives to protecting the environment. I salute to the dedication of mentors who provide education to millions of people around the world about climate change and other issues. And personally, I feel indebted to the individuals who are fighting for an environmental cause.
In one Asian country that I visited, I was surprised to meet a group of young individuals that actively participated in an effort to restore, protect and nurture Mother Nature. This group of 13 to 22-year-olds (both from the school and out of school sectors) was empowered by their religious beliefs and awareness of the actual environmental conditions. They converged as a government registered youth cooperative with legitimate by-laws that they themselves created. These young individuals were bound by their common mission, vision and goal. They had no funds, but they had initiatives, they were resourceful and they were creative. Most of all, they knew how to understand the signs of times and they were inclined to play their role, and yes, they were good at it.
Then, I realized that if we would empower the youth all over the world, we have the most solid weapon to assist us in our ecological quest. But with all the impulsive, diverse and distinct characteristics and behaviors, how do we begin organizing our youth? Here is the outline of that youth group’s journey, which I hope would give anyone or any community insights and ideas.
They started as a choir group
Most of them love music and playing different musical instruments. Some of them are good local composers. They belong to a church choir. Every Sunday, they chant in a chapel with more or less 450 members. They sing like angels, they play instruments like extensions of their bodies, and they are very dedicated to serve. Later on, they realized they can do something more valuable and helpful to the community and the environment.
They are leaders
Some of them are active members of the local youth council, which is responsible for planning, developing and actualizing programs and projects funded by the local government that could develop the youth in many aspects and generally improve the status of the youth in their community.
They are organized
These youngsters voluntarily joined in the group because they know that they can do something better than what a regular kid can do in his life. Aside from their coordinator that guides them all the time, they have chosen their own leaders and they respect each other. Regular meetings, scheduled programs and activities and involvement to much bigger cause are part of the group’s calendar. They talk about different issues. They discuss new ideas. They make plans. They actualize those plans. And most of all, they still play.
When you look at them, they are just a bunch of kids who loves to play and have a good time. But they are no mere choir group that chants in the church. They are a catalyst to progressive changes, and actualizing the word of God is their commitment. They act and live by examples. Young, strong and sharp, they can prove so many things. They have shown me a promise of renewal and hope.
They get involved
They don’t just sit and wait, but they observe, discuss and act. Unlike the common youth who wait to be told on what to do, they will take the initiative. They don’t waste their time lazing around. For them, the true meaning of fun is by engaging into significant activities that can help the majority. Here are few of the activities and projects that get them busy all the time.
Tree Planting. Every month, they would go to specific areas in town to plant trees. Before that, they would look for tree-populated areas to find seedlings for the activity. Instead of using plastic seedling bags, they would use dried banana leaves for the seedlings. They wouldn’t just plant trees, but they would also monitor every seedling until it could grow on its own.
Fish Cages. With the little project-based fund by the government, they were able to earn from culturing fish in cages. They didn’t hire people to actualize the project. Each member contributed in its realization. Solidarity and teamwork made a profitable outcome, which allowed them to maximize their funds for bigger projects that could help the community. What’s different on how they actualized this project was the fact that they also secured few cages to serve as breeding areas for various kinds of fish.
Seaweed Culture. Although this project is quite challenging, they were not afraid. By studying the process and tapping the assistance of the government’s environmental agency, they were able to successfully venture into this income-generating project. They would not care about the heat of the sun as long as they could raise enough funds to help rehabilitate the environment.
Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Protection. Since they were living on a coastal area, one of their programs was the rehabilitation of the coral reefs in the area. And what’s surprising here is that, they were doing it manually. They dove and tried to gather, without damaging, the healthy corals to a safe area they called ‘sanctuary’, protected them and let them grow more. The area also became the sanctuary of different kinds of fishes.
Public Awareness. From time to time, they would conduct lectures to school children and the fisherfolks on how to take care of the environment and the marine resources. Sometimes, they took public assemblies as chances to inform the public of their goals and how they could contribute on their own little ways. And in any public performance, they would integrate environmental awareness and education.
Training and Seminars. They didn’t merely rely on their resourcefulness. Some government agencies helped them learn more and discover new strategies or approaches. Through free seminars and trainings they were able to expand their horizons and make more concrete plans that could improve their lives while helping the environment.
This is the challenge of every community. To organize the youth, educate them by showing them the bigger picture of what is really happening on our environment, inspire them to do something, teach them how to contribute, and let them work together as one empowered sector to save Mother Earth. With the emergence of modern technologies, it wouldn’t be very difficult to persuade the youth to get involved.
Every group of people has a leader in it. It can create a viable plan geared toward helping our environment. If we would involve the youth in our efforts, this will become part of a tradition and habit. Children and youth will learn their roles and they will not hesitate to get involved.
Some people would think these are simple things I am trying to magnify. But hey, if you would know how those are being actualized, you would realize those are big deal. Environmental concerns are not solved by one hand but by collaborative efforts of both young and old—sometimes, it involves gargantuan tasks that may require heavy equipment to get done. It is never too late to start a cause and it is never too late to help.
Brandon Peters is an entrepreneur, writer and a travel, gadgets, health, and outdoors enthusiast. He loves sharing his insights, knowledge and experience in different fields. You can follow him through Facebook, Twitter and Google+.