Why is investing in our planet very important?

Highlighting the Importance of Community Clean-up and Empowering Children to Take Care of their Environment.

‘How was Earth Day?’ aunty asked.

‘Earth Day was stressful, but I am happy at the same time’, replied 5-year-old Daniel Kolawole.

Daniel will remember that event for a long time and will wish to participate in similar activities. Participating in activities such as the environmental clean-up exercise is enjoyable for kids and motivates them to make a difference. After all, we only have one Earth, and it is our joint responsibility to ensure that it remains clean and healthy.

The theme for Earth Day 2022 is Invest in our planet.

So why is investing in our planet very important?

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) says the environment plays an essential factor in the health and well-being of children. ‘More than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments. Every year, environmental risks – such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene – take the lives of 1.7 million children under 5,’ says two new WHO reports. 

The cost of a polluted environment: 1.7 million child deaths a year, says WHO

The time to act and invest in our planet is now as the most urgent threat facing Earth is the climate change issues and it is not science fiction.

What can we do as parents & guardians to encourage a cleaner environment?

One of the key activities for Earth Day is the Great Global Cleanup – a global event aimed at removing billions of pieces of trash from our neighborhoods, beaches, rivers, lakes, and parks. We all want a greener and cleaner planet, but we need to do the work to achieve it, and when the work is done, a healthier environment is birthed for all living things. However, this involves a collective effort. But how many of us have committed to making a positive change or an impact on our environment, and, more importantly, how many people have actually implemented their commitment plan?

It starts with the need for change and the individual drive to demand or seek the necessary change. Climate change, global warming, sea-level rise, etc., are apparent, impacting everyone. The vital signs are there – from warmer & hotter temperatures to severe storms and increased droughts. The net damage cost of climate change on our planet is likely to increase over time.

So, the time to ACT is NOW.  It is important to educate and inspire the next generation about the environment, the impact of global warming and climate change, and the need to consider sustainability as the key to achieving meaningful change. 

We need to make time for the younger generation to learn and take action

Teaching children about environmental issues helps them develop a sense of responsibility, understand climate issues and urgency, and motivate them to take action. Action is needed at all levels.

And when you think that your action in creating change is just like a drop in the ocean, that same action can/may inspire others to take action for change. Our behaviors and actions toward the environment can have a ripple effect on creating change and making an impact on the environment. We may not be in the position of power or leadership to make a big impact or take massive action or influence a country’s transition to renewable energy, but we can make a tremendous impact and difference in our community.

That is the perfect example of a school in Abuja, Nigeria that took the initiative to impact its environment. Alheri Pathway Academy staff and students took part in the global clean-up event. The children had an educative session with their parents on Earth Day and the benefits of a clean environment. They learned about the global clean-up and the need for everyone to take part in keeping the environment clean. After the educative session, the children took part in cleaning & tidying up activities at their respective homes under their parents’ supervision.  After, they proceeded to a nearby park in Abuja for another round of trash and litter picking around the park. Parents and teachers of the academy supervised the children. They cleaned and picked up trash with enthusiasm.

After the pick-up, they sat picnic-style, ate snacks, and had drinks while sharing stories about what Earth Day meant. It was a successful cleanup day; a great learning experience and the children loved it.

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Kindness to the environment is one of our focus areas in Afrikindness. We were quite pleased to have students, parents, and staff of Alheri Pathway Academy join us in the campaign to be kind to the environment.

So, what can parents do to encourage children to take positive actions on the environment?

  1. Participate in family activities: – Every day is Earth Day. To get started, here are 52 actions to get you started – 52 ways to invest in our planet.
  2. Ask engaging questions: – You can start by asking your child/children simple questions to get the climate conversation going. Children learn very fast and are very active. Questions like – What are the problems facing our planet? What will you change about your actions and behavior toward the environment? How would you protect the planet? What can you do in your school to keep your environment clean?
  3. Engage them using resources: – Few resources are available online for educators, and parents to inspire their children & students to make a difference.
  1. Get children to participate in competitions: – Afrikindness is launching a Creative writing & Poster competition for children and young adults. Get them writing and painting. The Earth Day competition is open to all children & young adults to inspire them to see the world and showcase their creative ideas to get the climate change conversation going.
  2. Enjoy family activities: – Watch the sunrise, take a nature walk, organize a litter pick, set up a recycling bay, etc. Just do something. It will make a difference.

 It is important to remind ourselves that we need each other and more so, we need a more sustainable world that works for all of us. Be Kind to the Environment. Take Action today. Don’t leave the younger ones behind.

At Afrikindness, our focus areas are (1) Kindness to oneself (2) Kindness to others (3) Kindness to the environment, and (4) Kindness to Africa.

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