This year the Our School Cares awards programme, sponsored by Peninsula Beverages (PenBev), is being expanded to include the recycling of particularly beverage containers, such as cans and PET bottles.
This environmental education based programme now enables more schools to compete for the awards, whilst raising their level of awareness of and participation in recycling at school level. PenBev plans no less than 8 beach and river clean-ups this year. The underlying theme of Our School Cares is environmental stewardship within the context of the school curriculum and volunteerism, and the need to nurture our environment.
This programme, started in 2004 and initially called the Adopt-a-spot Awards, encourage schools to care for the environment by starting projects that would be sustainable, benefiting both the School and the wider community. At that time, school curricula began to include environmental issues encouraged by the announcement in 2002 of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).
Today environmental awareness forms an integral part of all grades. Our School Cares proves a platform for schools in the Cape Town Metro and adjacent municipalities e.g. Paarl and Stellenbosch, to enhance their environmental education curriculum work with a practical project that benefits their school and/or community areas and raises environmental awareness. The programme also helps educators and learners to meeting their year work objectives. Social networking and leadership skills are also developed by group work and interactions with local communities. Past examples of projects include:
- indigenous food and water wise ornamental gardens
- making compost
- drafting a school environmental audit
- rehabilitating parks and open spaces
- cleaning and maintaining open spaces and fields
- maintaining grounds around the school
- setting up a recycling facility
- environmental activism
PenBev will be encouraging their Centres to adopt local schools and assist where possible with projects. PenBev is supporting this initiative to show their commitment to social upliftment, whilst providing a platform for schools and communities to illustrate their achievements and earth stewardship. PenBev’s staff also participate in beach clean-up and awareness programmes.
An element introduced in 2008 was the data capturing of marine and shoreline debris picked up on the beach walks and cleanups. This exercise will continue in 2010 and data will again be sent to Ocean Conservancy international. Prizes to the value of R24 000 will be awarded to schools judged to have optimised their resources for projects (primary and senior) and for schools with the better recycling efforts.