Story | 21 Jun, 2018

Empowering Children to #beatplasticpollution - In collaborative partnership with the IUCN CEC

On July 5, communities around the globe gathered together to show their support for the #BeatPlasticPollution campaign. Maria Auma, a proud and enthusiastic CEC member, who is extremely passionate about helping children connect with nature shares the story of their campaign in Uganda. In the weeks leading up to the celebrated day, the young team at Blue Luxury Investments (BLI) brainstormed ideas on how best to create awareness for this campaign. After back and forth messages and in-person meet ups over large boxes of pizza and home-made cooking, we decided to settle on children.

Why Children?

We all recalled the time when we were young children, growing up in school and how simple activities shaped our ideas into what we are today. School was our safe space to be silly, dream big and explore nature. We also learned how to care for our environment through visits to theme parks (the Botanical Gardens) and the Zoo (now renamed the Uganda Wildlife Education Center). It therefore felt timely to give back to a community that constituted a formative part of our childhood, and in turn inspire the next generation to love and protect nature.

The D-day:

For our “Even Children Can” campaign we chose Hill Preparatory School, a gender mixed school catering to children with disabilities. Albeit turning up a little late, the children and school staff were in high spirits and looking forward to engaging with our team. We were pleasantly happy to work with 50 Grade Three children – our ninja warriors split into two class groups, and were very impressed with the level of enthusiasm and engagement. For a brief moment, tears welled up in my eyes, just watching them absorb all the information we shared with them like a sponge. It was purely magical!

Our play-session with them began with a short airing of the famous Disney movie “The Little Mermaid – Under the Sea”, after which the children were asked to fill outward puzzles of what sea animals they saw in the video. We were not disappointed, and these bright girls and boys eagerly raised their hands to be the first to fill out the puzzles – perhaps because there was a treat for every correct answer!

A few puzzles and spelling corrections later we moved into the more serious discussion of plastic pollution. I must say I was doubly impressed by the level of acuity displayed. When I say disabilities in children, I refer to dyslexia, autism and physical impairment. But I think that these children were really far from it. And as described in “Ali Finds a Way”, a Comics Uniting Nations production, children with disabilities are heroes in reality. We got the children to come up to the charts and list ideas of how they could save life under water and #beatplasticpollution. Some amazing ideas they came up with included recycling and proper disposal of rubbish.

A school session would not be complete without an energizer, and for this we selected the catchy “Tik Tik Plastic Anthem”, a video campaign produced by Bhalma Foundation. These children went wild with excitement and brought on some serious moves! Our session closed with an art’s contest to stir up creative juices and put to paper what the class had learned from our visit. The best picture selected was from Ssentongo Gerald Nyukura – a bright autistic child who received The Poseidon Patrol Comic as a reward.

I thank my amazing BLI team, Hillary Mutatiina who coordinated one of the class sessions and Sharon Among our amazing photographer for making this day memorable for the little lovelies. Special thanks goes out to the school administration at Hill Preparatory School for allowing us to disrupt their daily routine, and to the IUCN CEC committee for supporting us in running this campaign.

Remember, if you can’t re-use it, refuse it!

About the Author:
Maria Auma resides in Uganda and is the Founder of Blue Luxury Investments (BLI), an organization that works to inspire global good within communities through impact investing and fundraising for social ventures and projects. BLI is also a collaborative partner of #NatureForAll and a strong advocate for environmental conservation.