The initiative was inaugurated by UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore at sector 17 plaza. (Express)
“Our parents were not able to save the world for us. Maybe what we do now will also not protect our generation from climate change, but we still do something for our future children,” says Shreya, a fifteen-year-old student activist from Delhi, who was participating in the climate change awareness program titled ‘climategiri’, which took place in the Sector 17 plaza on Monday.
Inspired by the “Fridays for Future” protests carried out by student activist Greta Thunberg, students like Shreya who are part of a child rights NGO called Pratyek, have been trained to be youth activists and have been conducting “climategiri” on one Friday every month in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. The NGO’s Director, Steve Rohan Rocha, got in touch with St Stephen’s school in Chandigarh, and together they decided to bring the climate campaign to the city.
“More than 3000 children from schools across the city are participating in ‘climategiri’. All students are engaging with climate change awareness in one way or another here,” says Louis Lopez, Principal of St Stephens school, who along with the support of the Education Department and the Municipal Corporation, was able to plan the large event, which was thronged by students, teachers and common citizens of the city alike.
41 students from slum areas in Delhi, who have been trained under Rocha’s NGO to be youth activists imparted their training to the students of Chandigarh.
“Our students are from the slums in Delhi. Apart from going to school, they have been trained to be youth activists under our program Young Advocates for Social Harmony or YASH. These students have been actively fighting societal evil such as abuse, child marriage, child labour and corporal punishment, and have now set their sights on the issue of climate change and environmental degradation,” says Rocha.
Apart from being trained in social activism, the students from Pratyek have also been trained in circus performance, and were putting up their act in one corner of the plaza, attracting crowds whilst also disseminating knowledge on climate change by engaging passerby’s in conversation. On another end of the plaza, a row of demonstrations by different eco clubs from the city’s schools on environment friendly practices were displayed.
Vishakha, a student of class 5 from Vivek High school, was selling tie-die shirts made from recycled cloth.
“One can do creative things with old clothes,” she said, while tying up the fringed ends of an old top to make a pattern at the border of a tie-dye blouse, painted with an eco-friendly slogan.
Next to her, ten-year-old Dipesh from Adarsh Pal Vidyapeeth set up a model he made on his own to show ways in which one can battle climate change end ecological destruction.
On another end of the convention, students from Government Senior Secondary School 45 A put up an exhibition of plants that students from the eco club had grown over the past year.
“The left side of the table has all herbal and medicinal plants, and the right is potted plants for beautification, both are free and we are just giving them away to those who wish to adopt a plant,” says Rupinderjeet who heads the eco club of the school, pointing to the medicinal plants labelled with the name of the plant as well as its properties.
Apart from students, the convention also included a group of women from a sewing class from Baltana area in Panchkula, who were selling cloth bags made from the material brought to them by customers themselves.
“These women are using their skills here to recycle cloth, and earn money at the same time. We have sold 15 cloth bags as of now,” says Sarita Gupta, who led the group of women.
The event was concluded with an address from UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore, who declared Friday as a ‘single use plastic-free day’ in Chandigarh schools. He also appreciated the efforts of Municipal Corporation in conducting effective awareness programmes such as “climategiri” besides engaging general public to save the environment. He said that these type of platforms will be provided to the citizens and schools in the future as well.