EMA keeps T&T beautiful... Teaching environmental awareness through youth programmes…
For decades we have neglected our environment, but it appears that there is hope for the future as the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has begun actively reaching out to young people through schools throughout the country. In this two-part series, Tisha Marajh, manager, Corporate Relations and Public Education/corporate secretary of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) tells us more.
Environmental awareness and education set the foundation for a more responsible generation, allowing for those to follow to benefit from and enjoy an environment that has not been compromised by irresponsible developmental practices. Apart from being one of the Environmental Management Authority’s (EMA’s) main responsibilities, this is the premise upon which the EMA has engaged in several public education and outreach activities since its inception. One of its major accomplishments continues to be the youth programmes. The EMA’s yearly primary schools “Hands On” environmental programme is one such initiative that has evolved over the years, integrating environmental education projects into the school’s curriculum and including a more engaging experience through environmental hikes, and nature tours.
Some of the programme’s previous project themes were based on forests, wetlands and littering. Song and drama are also educational tools used at the secondary school level, as the EMA also engages in the secondary Schools Eco-Song and Dramatic Envirologue competitions. These art forms allow students to combine creativity and culture into their art pieces as calypso, chutney and even folklore are elements used in these competitions. These programmes also enrich the lives of these students by teaching them life skills such as confidence, teamwork, responsibility and accountability, and positivity. One of the EMA’s more sustainable programmes is the EMA’s Annual Environmental Youth Workshop. Since 2008, the EMA’s Annual Youth Workshop has been successful in educating and informing young people about environmental management issues in Trinidad and Tobago.
This initiative is open to students in Forms Six only and is limited to a small number of 15-18 students per year. These fortunate students are given the opportunity to spend one week at a live-in workshop to learn about various aspects of Trinidad and Tobago’s environment. In previous years students were facilitated at Grand Riviere and at Asa Wright Nature Centre, and this year we’re looking to Tobago. These opportunities enable the students to interact with and understand the different roles of key stakeholders such as the Forestry Division and NGOs, as well as understand the roles and functions of the EMA. At the workshop the young enthusiastic bunch, are open to informative lectures, field trips, tours, hikes and drama facilitators. They produce educational products utilising art forms of drama, film and art and are accredited with Certificates of Participation upon completion of their stay. The EMA then utilises these products in national public education campaigns.
This experience has instilled exuberance and initiative into these youngsters and today, the result is a group of over 50, talented youths dedicated to portraying their perspective on local environmental issues. They are called the EMA Youth Ambassadors (YA). Their mission is to encourage and influence peers, to think and act in an environmentally responsible manner. While they utilise educational tools such as video productions, posters, arts and crafts, song and dance, their primary vehicle for education is theatre, since it allows the audience to see and learn about important linkages to the environment. EMA’s managing director/CEO, Dr Joth Singh said “that educational awareness through the arts and theatre provide an opportunity for the Youth Ambassadors to showcase and develop their various skills in designing costumes, writing scripts, and learning social skills such as team work and confidence. They are well on their way to becoming future environmental leaders. The EMA feels that by investing in them, we are investing in the future of this country.”
The EMA YA’s have, over the years, contributed many dramatic and artistic forms of environmental pieces toward improving awareness among the youth in Trinidad and Tobago and on February 4, 2012 at the Queen’s Hall, the YA’s will be hosting their first Eco-Concert called OMG—Orient My Generation. Next week we will delve into the lives of the EMA Youth Ambassadors and see what life is like for them as young active environmental enthusiasts, and see what we can expect from their first Eco-Concert, OMG—Orient My Generation.
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