My name is Christina Petri and my passion for volunteering and environmental awareness in my country is something to which I want to give relevance. Since 2016 I am an active member of the National voluntary campaign of “Let’s do it Greece” with more than 119.000 volunteers across the country with a goal to bring together Greek citizens into organizing volunteering events on a single day. But every year, I also have a personal goal: spread the love for the environment to the new generation and inspire students to act for it in order to bring the change in our world.
It is a common belief that if you teach a young person a good habit, he/she will follow it for a lifetime. From this point of view, there is no better place for a child to learn about something than through education. A place where ideas flower and the exploration of the world starts. Teaching about environmental awareness in schools it’s a vital task. Young children, through experiential education, learn how to take care of the environment and think about the environmental footprint we leave on our planet. And since they are an essential part of this world, they also experience the importance of living in peace with it.
Moreover, sometimes when thinking about huge changes in the world, it is important to take a focus on the small actions that can have a great impact. By teaching a child to love nature, is possible to shape the future adult who will act and do everything in his/her power to bring a positive change on our planet. During these last decades, the Earth is sending out an SOS and by raising awareness of the environment and its crucial situation among youth, we form the reflection of the society we are dreaming of. And it is up to us to make this happen because these children are the new generation of today and the world changers of tomorrow.
As a member of “Let’s do it Greece” I’ve had the opportunity to see that the new generation has a spark in its heart, which is ready to light up. To be more specific, this is how the story of our team started: inside a school!
We were a group of teenagers who loved volunteering for the environment, through school and through the activities we organised with our teachers. Beach cleanups, reforestations and visits to environmental education centres made us feel that we were doing something important for this planet.
This experience had such a great impact on us that after graduating we decided to create our own Team, in order to protect the forest in our area. And we started our journey by following the example of our teachers, who inspired us.
We went to other schools to talk to students and organize reforestations with them. Later, magic happened – since we were near their age, we managed to build a strong connection with other students and they followed us in other volunteering events. That was the first step for some widespread changes.
The best part of this whole experience, the realisation that you have a significant impact on those young people’s lives, is when you see them organise their own teams and their own events to motivate their families and teachers to take action and become the new activists for the protection of the nature around us.
Those who used to be the students we have been talking to yesterday, are today the teenagers who act and the world changers of tomorrow. Their motivation has a reflection in society and our happiness is indescribable. At the last National voluntary action of “Let’s do it Greece”, in 2019, 45.000 students took the lead and organised voluntary events during “Let’s do it Greece Volunteering Week”. It was their turn to lead by example and as a result 1 in 10 schools of our country was taking part.
And, what if I told you that you can also be one of the young people who can bring this change to this world? It is very simple:
Step 1: Organise class discussions about the environment
Become familiar with the ideas of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and adopt eco-friendly habits such as: “Say no to single-use plastic!” Discuss about the needs of your region and point out the places where you need to act immediately.
Step 2: Involve teachers in the organisation of the event
Let teachers be part of the discussion, share your thoughts with them and set together some goals about the positive change of your area. Their knowledge is invaluable and together you can choose the action you want to get involved with.
Step 3: Schedule the first meetings in order to create a working group
Talk to the people in charge (ex. the municipality) and/or the volunteer groups in your area to help organize it together.
Step 4: Plan your volunteering event
Make a plan with what you will do, what equipment you will need, how you will distribute roles and responsibilities between the members of the team and everything else you need to organize.
Step 5: Invite your friends, your family, other schools, and people in your area to volunteer with you
Use social media and spread your idea so that even more people can learn about it and join your event.
Step 6: Let’s do it! It’s the day of the event!
On the day of the event, we all together give our best.
Sometimes, when I consider what astounding consequences come from little things such as teaching a student to avoid single-use plastic I am tempted to think that there are in fact no little things. Like the butterfly effect says: with an infinitesimal small action, changes are born on the other side of the planet that otherwise we would have never had the chance to face them. Environmental awareness in schools through volunteering creates the conditions for a waterfall of positive change.
Let’s #TrashHack our lives and as Mahatma Gandhi said: “Become the change we wish to see in the world!”
Article by Christina Petri @Christina Petri