Neelankarai Community Development – Efforts at Govt Middle School, Neelankarai

You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.
– Walt Disney

In our search for such beautiful people we discovered the kids of this school
Environmental awareness is something which should be seeded in every human being when s/he is young, nurtured as their second nature
Week 1
Day :- Sept 2nd, 2016
Time :- 2.30 pm to 4.00 pm
Venue :- Neelankarai P.U.M.S Govt school
Welcomed to the combined classes of 6th ,7th & 8th by around 80 smiling and budding faces, with a handful recognizing us due to our previous engagement with them at Chinna Neelankarai and Periya Neelankarai during our CCC7 story-telling events
We start of with simple discussion on why plastic is harmful to us by showing few pictures to them. Thanks to CESAW – we were able to use their materials to explain them the harms of plastic , the damages it causes not only on land but also in water, to all the marine life.
They added that they too have seen a couple of tortoise being stuck in nets and plastic covers.
We now quiz the students for solutions for these problems. The kids are on their feet, answering them and throwing us various ideas such as:
1) Stop using Plastic bags
2) Stop using Plastic drinking packets and bottles , etc
Then we ask the kids what do we do with the existing plastic bottles and covers…?
Planning to show our expertise, we were about to explain and again the kids are on their feet to answer let’s recycle it 😊👍
This is the moment we realised these kids were well informed, all they need is a bit guidance i.e., the seed is already planted all it needs now is nurturing and care.
At the end of week 1 session , we gave a task to our beloved kids to make and bring crafts out of recycled materials and we said we will be with them next week same time.
Week 2
Day :- Sept 9nd, 2016
Time :- 2.30 pm to 4.00 pm
Venue :- Neelankarai P.U.M.S Govt school
With no previous reminder for almost a week, we again went to meet these amazing kids. To our surprise out of 80 kids almost 30 to 35 kidsmade some beautiful crafts out of throw-away plastics like a mobile stand, Plant holder and other paper arts.
Then we proceeded to quiz them about the types of garbage : wet and dry waste; Recyclables and Non recyclables.
Discussed with them about the bio-magnification  process and also reveal to them the fact about carrying hot food in plastic covers/packs is one of the reason for cancer.
We urged them to choose our traditional good-old tiffin-carriers over plastic/tupperware.
In a bid to test their knowledge about alternatives for plastic goods, we challenged each one to come up with one plastic-item and the equivalent non-plastic goods. Here’s a few with what they came up with… 
  • Cloth Bags vs Plastic Bags
  • Steel water bottles vs Plastic/tupperware bottles
  • Fountain Pens vs Ball Point Pens
  • Colour Pencils vs Sketches
  • Toys made of wood and clay vs Plastic-made toys

We encouraged the students find more of such alternatives and make a conscious choice to use non-plastic goods.
While we were about to finish, the students who didn’t bring their crafts, promised to make and bring them in the following week… This was great due to the fact that the students realized that our visits were not one-off sessions… but that we valued their efforts and that we wanted a better future for all, including them 🙂

Week 3:
Day :- Sept 16th, 2016
Time :- 2.30 pm to 4.00 pm
Venue :- Neelankarai P.U.M.S Govt school 
This week started off with an interaction with the School’s principal. We requested the principal to set up a Eco Club in the school… to our amazement, she responded that the school had one already and it conducts Drawing, Essay and Speech competitions on almost 20-25 days in a year on various special days such as World Environment Day, etc.,
Since the foundation was already in place, we discussed with her and another teacher about our plans such as setting up of a green wall on the compound of the school, Setting up of compost bins, a session on Paper Crafts and a No-Plastic Awareness rally with the children. She was extremely happy and extended her support for all our endeavours.
The EcoClub (Sutruchoozhal Kuzhu) was functioning as 5 groups. We took this as an opportunity and designated one activity for each group as below:
A) Green Team – Weekly talks in the assembly on environment awareness
B) Blue Team – Planning & Setting up of green wall
C) Yellow Team – Making of paper bags & bin bags which will be distributed to local shops on day of rally
D) Brown Team – Compost bin setting up in school
E) Orange Team – Planning & Organisation of rally

The principal then confirmed us with tentative dates for the plans. We proceeded to meet the children , the kids who had promised to make craft last week, they brought some more beautiful crafts like Pen pouches, Piggy banks, Etc.,
Then, with the help of the teacher we identified the teams and it’s members and we explained to them about their designated activity.
Awareness in Action…
Finally, before we concluded for the day, the students made a pledge not to use ball point/gel pens any more… instead use only the fountain (ink) pens as a first step towards our journey towards a healthy and green environment.
We bid them adieu until next time ☺
Our Plans include the following:
1. Session on Paper Crafts and Bin Bags ( October 7th, 2016)
2. Green Wall (October 14th and 21st)
3. No-Plastic Awareness Rally in and around Neelankarai (14th November)
4. Source Segregation and Composting within School Campus
5. Weekly EcoTalks on Friday’s at the School Assembly

Come… Be Part of the Change that you wanna see…. !!!

Heartfelt thanks to all folks….Chitra from CESAW, Aravind, Pradeep, Varadaraja, Ragavee… who showed up during different days and boosted our efforts 
— Cheers —

Neelankarai Ninjas

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