Students unite for more sustainable world


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This article was published 14/10/2014 (3086 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A group of Seven Oaks School Division students recently received some hands-on education in the area of sustainable development.

On Oct. 2, students and teachers from across the division gathered together for the seventh annual Unite to Change conference, a Seven Oaks education for sustainability development (ESD) initiative that promotes the concepts of environmental responsibility, cultural awareness and collaboration, social justice and health and well-being.

During the daylong event, Grade 4 to 12 students visited the circle garden/outdoor classroom at the division’s maintenance department (2536 McPhillips St.), where they took part in such activities as yoga, tai chi and aboriginal drumming, as well as learning about the seven sacred teachings and the BIOvator, a commercial composting machine the division purchased in 2012.

The students then travelled to West Kildonan Collegiate to plant spruce seedlings by the Red River to prevent surface runoff and soil erosion.

“When you plant a tree, the roots dig in and it prevents the dirt and excess runoff from eroding into the river and polluting it. Planting these roots solidifies the soil and helps for years to come, and the trees look pretty nice too,” said Scott Knight, a Grade 9 student at West Kildonan Collegiate who participated in the Unite to Change conference.

West Kildonan science teachers Krysta Pooley and Heather Eckton helped lead this year’s outdoor education-focused conference.

Last year’s Unite to Change conference took place at the off-grid Northern Sun Farm Co-op in Steinbach, while 2012’s conference was spent at Providence University College in Otterburne, Man., learning about the school’s biomass heating system.

“Outdoor education has so many benefits,” Pooley said. “I’m a huge advocate for science and the preservation of the planet and what kids can do to help with that. It’s all about educating them about what’s around them and how they can preserve it.”

Patrick Hacault, a Grade 4 student at École Belmont, may only be nine years old, but he received the conference’s sustainable development message loud and clear.

“Sustainability is important for the environment, for the trees and for the water and for the people,” Hacault said. “If we have waste, then the plants will die, and they give us oxygen, so the next thing is all the humans will die.”

Eckton said it’s essential that kids learn about sustainable development.

“Sustainability is the most relevant thing I could think of that they learn about,” Eckton said. “There’s so much going on in the world and it’s becoming a much smaller place. When something happens in the world, it’s no longer in isolation, it’s impacting everyone.”

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