Getting hands-on with nature

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Environment Southland environmental education facilitator Josh Sullivan teaches young humanitarians Taylah Jamieson ( left) and Aisha-May Savage (both 12) how to plant trees along the Waihopai River in Invercargill last week.

NEW Zealand Red Cross’ Young Humanitarians grew their knowledge of the environment and climate change by planting trees last week.

The initiative was part of a six-week programme encouraging children to give back to their communities.

In Invercargill, 12 young humanitarians aged 10-13 took part in the project, alongside New Zealand Red Cross and Environment Southland (ES) staff members.

Humanitarian development engagement manager Callum Clark said they were in the third week of the programme.

‘‘It’s been well received so far and the kids seem to be enjoying themselves.’’

Some of the concepts participants learnt about in the first couple of weeks included what it meant to be a humanitarian, the history of the Red Cross organisation and the journey of
a refugee.

The initiative was the perfect opportunity for children to learn more about human welfare, Mr Clarke said.

The programme was free and the youngsters received afternoon tea each week.

‘‘It is a unique offering for children to learn about all these things in one package and develop into young humanitarians.’’

Children went out to the Waihopai River to plant about 20 native plants.

Some of the native plants they planted last Wednesday included Kowhai, Cabbage Tree and Pittosporum Patulum.

ES environmental education facilitator Josh Sullivan said there was a good level of engagement from the children.

‘‘The students have been keen to learn more about planting. I think often it is the hands-on experiences that help them learn the most and to have them come down to the Waihopai [River] has been beneficial for the community.’’

Young humanitarians Taylah Jamieson and Aisha-May Savage said the programme was a great experience.

‘‘We’ve learnt about Colombian refugees and their journey, their climate and environment and their situations where they came from and our lives compared to people in America,’’ Taylah said.

Being a part of the programme was a great way to help out in the community and learn about other people in the world, Aisha said.

In the next weeks, students will focus on first aid training and disaster risk management.

– Young people interested in joining a future programme can email  invercargill@redcross.org.nz to join the waiting list.

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