Catholic Schools Can Lead the Way to a Clean and Green Future
by Dave Finnigan
(Celebration, Florida, USA)
The Pope Has Opened the Door
Pope Francis has opened the door to a vast educational system into which that we had not yet ventured with our program.
The 70 million Catholics, equal to 22% of the US population, could set an example for the rest of the nation's schools and families to follow.
Littering, recycling, seat belt use and anti-smoking all started in schools and spread rapidly throughout the country.
The key is not only to educate children and teachers, but to involve parents, administrators and surrounding small businesses.
We mobilize families who then work throughout their communities to solve the problem for the sake of their children.
It Just Takes One Day
Our program requires one day in a typical school. We start with a teachers meeting in the early morning before school to let the teachers know that we will be treating their children as kinesthetic, spatial, musical, interpersonal and environmental learners, not merely as verbal and mathematical learners.
Then we hold grade level activity sessions in the gym all day for the students, with one class for each grade level.
Each Grade Gets a Piece of the Puzzle
Each grade gets a piece of the climate change puzzle, a different part of the World and a different critter to learn about. We use music, games, colorful slides and short film clips to make the learning stick.
For instance one grade becomes butterflies. They learn a butterfly song, see colorful slides and a short film, and play a migration game, becoming larvae and pupas and adults as they travel from Mexico to Canada and back on the gym floor.
Other grades learn about puffins, frogs, rain forest critters, penguins or polar bears.
An All-School Assembly and Family Night Bring Everyone on Board
We hold an all-school assembly to round out the day and to let each grade know what the others learned.
Family Night that same evening gets parents involved and gets their commitment to work with their children and help solve the problem.
Every family fills out and promises to follow a Green Action Checklist of all the things they can do to reduce their carbon and water footprints.
Local Merchants Give Rebates to Schools for Purchases by Families
Then we hook the families up with an on-line store and with local merchants who will provide rebates to the school for purchases by families.
So as families go down their checklists and make purchases of energy and water saving products and services, their school gets rebates.
This Program Is a Win for Everyone
Teachers love our program because we open “Pandora’s Box” and make climate change a fit topic for discussion, but without fear or blame.
Administrators respect the scientific approach we bring to the issue, working with each grade at their developmental level.
Students take the lead, winning badges, gold stars and recognition.
Parents save money and help their children enjoy a clean and green future.
PTAs make money because as families “go green” the school can afford to “go green” too.
Vendors of “green” products and services get customers.
The Community goes green without government or foundation money.
Please Help Us Win
This program won first place in the 2014 MIT Climate CoLab Youth Action Contest.