CHILDREN ARE CONNECTED WITH AND CONTRIBUTE TO THEIR WORLD
Mount Evelyn Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) children have enjoyed an adventure researching and learning about endangered animals and ways that they can support animals which have been critically affected by human practices. This has been a student led project, with educators and parents fully supporting the children’s inquisitive minds and thirst for knowledge. The following is a story about what happened one day when a child walked into the OSHC room talking about tigers.
“I love tigers! They’re so cute and cuddly”, exclaimed a child as she walked into OSHC carrying a rather large picture book all about tigers. An educator suggested they research more about tigers on the iPad. A group of children gathered around the iPad to see what they would discover.
A common theme began to occur. Endangered, endangered, endangered. “What does endangered mean?” asked a child. “Something that is in grave danger caused by human activity and is very close to extinction if we, as humans, don’t make change” replied an educator.
The children discovered that there were only 300 species of Sumatran tigers left in the world.
“Why?” asked a child.
Together we learnt that poaching and the loss of habitat due to palm oil plantations and pulp paper plantations were the cause of the decline of our beloved Sumatran tiger.
“Palm oil.” breathed a child.
Earlier in the year we had explored and discovered the effects of palm oil plantations and the devastation it had upon orangutans. Through this experience, led by the OSHC children, we were able to raise money and adopted an orangutan called ‘Bunga’ and have cared for him for nearly three years.
Not only did we adopt an orangutan, we changed our buying habits, our eating habits, we shared our newfound knowledge with family and friends, children designed posters, made lists of food that contained palm oil and palm oil free alternatives. We even had families download palm oil free apps on their phones for their children when buying food at the supermarkets or when out and about. There were many conversations had during OSH care time, at home and at school.
The children were astounded that palm oil not only affected orangutans, but tigers as well.
“We should adopt a tiger” exclaimed a child. And so began our quest to help Sumatran tigers.
We put our thinking caps on. Ideas started overflowing, posters were created, pictures were brought from home of other endangered animals, a guessing jar competition was started, tables and chairs were beautifully decorated. Within in a few days a wall in the OSHC room was dedicated to endangered species. To give you an idea, you could not walk into the OSHC room without being bombarded by the children’s new found campaign to adopt a Sumatran tiger. You were compelled to donate!
Weeks passed and our knowledge grew. Families made guesses of how many items were in our guessing jar and donated over and over again. Finally after much hard work and organisation we had enough funds to adopt a tiger.
There was much excitement and anticipation as we waited for the adoption process. Then the moment arrived: we received notification that Langka was our adopted female Sumatran tiger. OSHC has since gone on to adopt another tiger named Cinta. Not a week passes when a child asks to adopt another endangered species. We have a long list!
Throughout this journey the children at OSHC have demonstrated an awareness of the impact of human activity on the environment and the interdependence of living things. Children have become socially responsible and have developed a deepened respect for the environment. One thing we know for sure at OSHC, extinction in the wild for the Sumatran tiger and all endangered creatures is likely if we don’t take immediate action.
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