Instilling environmental values early in life

From left to right, Ixchel, Gerardo, Emiliano and Raul show off the totes they made from old t-shirts while their parents participated in Juntos: Our Air, Our Water’s Promotor training.

While Promotores were learning about environmental justice and civic engagement, their kids were also learning about sustainability while having lots of fun. Promotores is a community-led leadership training program of Juntos: Our Air, Our Water.

During the last Promotores training held during the Saturdays of February and March, participants were very delighted with the activities and games their kids participated in in the child care area.

During each of the four-hour sessions, kids would play without generating trash. Kids would spend their time playing different hand-clapping, tag, soccer, frisbee or card games. They also learned how to make a reusable shopping bag from an old t-shirt and planted trees near the Rio Grande Bosque.

The main purpose of this approach is to create a connection between the kids and more natural ways to spend their time. Instead of providing them with worksheets to color or draw, or electronic devices to play video games or watch videos, they played more traditional games, became each other’s source of fun and developed a greater awareness about how they can affect nature and their own health positively.

In addition, we explained to the kids the tight relationship between clean air and this form of outdoor entertainment. Without clean air, spending time outdoors becomes very difficult. Furthermore, they learned that burning fossil fuels like coal and diesel generates fumes that are toxic for humans and is present in the air we breathe. Children learned about Juntos’ campaign, Clean Buses for Healthy Niños, which is supporting community members who are demanding zero-emissions electric school buses for every kid in the state and the reasons we support it.

From left to right, Emiliano, Raul, Gerardo, Jesus and Ixchel learn how to reuse t-shirts to make tote bags while their parents participate in Juntos: Our Air, Our Water’s Promotor training.

This is an effort to plant a seed in children’s minds for them to enjoy a more sustainable and fun way to take care of our environment. The purpose of this approach is to make the environmental culture available to both generations – the Promotores workshop participants and their children. At the end of the day, kids were eager to be back to the workshops the next week.

As a family, we have the conviction that everybody can make small changes with huge results that impact our environment. It is our decision to improve the way of our lifestyle for the benefit of the planet.

By Ana Rios and Raul Villarreal, Juntos Promotores graduates and volunteers (and their kids)