MCFly caught up with AfSL volunteer Shireen Malik to talk about the sustainability workshop she developed to help inform children about environmental issues in a fun and interactive way. Shireen will be holding the workshops until February 2014, so get in touch if you are interested or know someone who is.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved with AfSL?
I’m a full-time mum of three children (aged 9, 7 and 3). I first became involved with AfSL by coming along to a local project of theirs, Old Moat Gardeners (OMG), which was an allotment they had set up in a back garden of a house that was being renovating. I received a letter in my son’s school bag and thought that this would be a fabulous opportunity for my kids to learn about growing own our food! They loved it, especially the younger two. After approximately 2/3 months of going the Local Project Managers of OMG were leaving Manchester and asked if I would be interested in taking over. AfSL offered training, which I completed, and as a result Little Green Feats was born!!
What are the workshop’s aims and why did you want it to be targeted at kids?
The workshops are aimed at children aged 9-11. I have been volunteering in school for some time before I became a Local Project Managers (LPM), and was aware of the ability of this age group so I geared my workshop for them. I have also volunteered for an Islamic charity, the Islamic Society of Britain, in which I delivered workshops to teach children of this age group about Islam which have been very successful. So, I thought why not teach children about sustainability?!
I aimed it at children because they are in their prime for learning, and ideas and thoughts are developed at this time. I also remember where my interest in sustainability came from, and it was by watching Blue Peter when I was at school age! Children are custodians of the future, and I feel that by teaching them how they can make their world better for their future, is important for them.
What has the reaction to it been from the parents, kids and staff?
So far, the reactions I have got from children and their parents have been great! Children have enjoyed taking part and parents have said they are applying what they have learnt at home, which is just what we wanted! Teachers have felt that it has supplemented their teaching very well, and confirmed that the children enjoyed every minute of it. I think when you start something new you never expect positive responses straight away, so just to get the response I got was really quite surprising!
Why is sustainability important to you?
Sustainability is important to me mainly because of two things. First of all, in my Islamic faith there are clear instructions to protect the environment and respect the laws of nature. Understanding sustainability and acting upon it, is a form of worship because we are abiding by the religion’s teachings. Secondly, my passion for sustainability has come from regular viewing of the one and only Blue Peter, and related animal and environment conservation programmes when younger.
How can people help support the project and take part?
People can help support the project by volunteering with AfSL and joining the workshops when they take place. They can also help by spreading the word about Little Green Feats to anybody who works in primary schools. We are trying to make LGF available to schools all over Manchester so help from anyone outside central Manchester would be welcome to save journey time to schools in that area. If anyone wishes to volunteer then they can contact myself at firstname.lastname@example.org or Erika Nagae, (Sustainability and Schools Coordinator for Manchester) at email@example.com.
Partner organizations & Funders:
– Ward Regeneration Officer (Chorlton and Chorlton Park)
– Manchester City Council and AfSL
Interview conducted by Arwa Aburawa, co-editor of Manchester Climate Monthly