Aristea Primary School is a school not too far away from where I stay. I decided to target schools in my community for the Big 02 Challenge and make an impact in the lives of children around me instead of targeting schools further away. My sister is also currently completing her fourth year teaching practical at the school and what an amazing opportunity to partner with my sister as we introduced the Big 02 Challenge to her class of grade five learners.

The children were so excited to have me there as there had been a huge build up created by sister the week leading up to my visit. So you can just imagine the excitement when I finally walked through the classroom door and they were able to see me in ‘real life’ as they liked to say. I conducted a tree planting lesson in class with the learners as I discussed with them the importance of trees, what we use them for, our environmental footprints and what they can do to make a small change in the environment around them. One of the activities I do with the children is give them a ‘leafless’ tree whereby they have to fill it with their thumb prints in order to fill the tree with leaves. We paint their thumbs green and they then place their print on a branch of the tree eventually filling the tree with all their thumb prints. I think it is important for them to create something which can be stuck up in their classroom as a reminder of the day and what they have learnt.

Another great exercise I do is giving each child the opportunity to say a Pledge Promise where they make a one promise to change a habit in their lives whether it’s turning off lights in their house, picking up litter or planting a tree in their garden. It is always an inspiring activity to hear all of their pledges and how excited they are about following them. We then finished off with a fun game where five learners had to draw a tree on the white board in front of the class but doing this while blindfolded. One never really realizes the impact you have on these children only until you are made aware of it maybe the next day or in the weeks to come. My sister sent me a photo she took of the learners as they were picking up litter around the school grounds the very next day after I had visited. Two of the learners even made a beautiful sign which was all about going green. It is moments like these that make this whole journey all the more worthwhile and gratifying. It was so rewarding for me to visit this school and work together with my sister which made it even more special.

Unfortunately due to the weather we were unable to plant the 5 trees that I had brought along which we were going to plant but instead donated them to the school in the meantime and promised to visit again so that I could join the class when the weather was on our side so we could plant the trees!