Toronto Community Housing, with the support of the Toronto District School Board, recently launched an Environmental Education pilot program for the Grade 5 students at Nelson Mandela, Lord Dufferin, Sprucecourt and Regent Park/Duke of York Public Schools. The program content is hands-on, interactive and geared to the unique needs of the Regent Park community in an effort to encourage everyday environmentally positive changes at school and home.
This pilot, generously funded by Downtown Toyota and Toyota on Front, also offers environmentally motivated high school students an opportunity to earn community service hours towards applying for a Toyota Evergreen University/College Scholarship. Regent Park Pathways is supporting the program by recruiting student volunteers from local area high-schools such as Jarvis Collegiate and Central Tech.
This program consists of three, 2 1/2 hour teaching units: Recycling, Green Spaces and Energy. The Recycling unit was launched on March 27th at Lord Dufferin with students from Sprucecourt attending. It was repeated on April 3rd at Nelson Mandela with the students from Regent Park/Duke of York. Activities included a shopping trip to a mock "grocery store" for various recyclables and discarded household items. (PC reusable shopping bags were donated by the local Joe's No Frills.) These shopping items were used in various hands-on games to teach the benefits of recycling, reusing and avoiding environmentally negative product purchases.
Each class was also given an organic waste container (the same one that will be introduced to Regent Park homes this November) and shown how to make their own compost with organic waste and the help of 1000 red wiggler worms. The worms were the stars of the program with each school receiving a worm composting kit for their classroom. Sunday Harrison of the local Green Thumbs program has volunteered to assist each school with the upkeep of their new worm friends. The compost made will be used in local community gardens in the upcoming Green Spaces program to be held in late May.
At lunch, students were given a reusable lunch bag, drink, sandwich and snack containers in which they made their own healthy, litter-less lunch. At the end of the program, students wrote personal pledges about the environmentally friendly choices they plan to make in the future. Hopefully these pledges will include litter-less lunches, and shopping trips free of plastic bags!
For more information about this program and/or how you can lend your support as a volunteer please contact Helen Reed at 416-981-4122, Helen.Reed@torontohousing.ca
Photos: Courtesy of Andrew Allen