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Eco-Schools programme to be rolled out across the Island

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A highly-regarded environmental programme that has been introduced to millions of schoolchildren around the world is set to be rolled out across Bermuda.

Two of the Island's primary schools were given a first taste of what the UN-recognised Eco Schools initiative is all about last week. They will be joined by others in the near future after Greenrock announced it has just become an associate member for the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) which oversees the worldwide programme.

Eco Schools encourages students, teachers and facilitators to get involved in promoting more environmentally friendly actions, such as improving the school's grounds and air quality, getting rid of toxins, reducing power bills and empowering students to become agents for change to make the world more sustainable. This is done through engaged, action-orientated learning.

Victor Scott and West Pembroke schools were introduced to the Eco Schools concept last week through a workshop conducted by the Bermuda Environmental Alliance and the US National Wildlife Federation (NWF), which has established Eco Schools in 2,700 schools across the States.

Greenrock applauded that initiative, which saw the Bermuda Environmental Alliance (BEA) and the NWF adopt the first two Eco Schools in Bermuda. After “productive discussions with BEA and NWF to collaborate on the initiative”, Greenrock president Judith Landsberg said: “As Greenrock establishes this wonderful programme nationally in Bermuda we look forward to building on the knowledge and experience of the NWF and having Victor Scott and West Pembroke Primary leading the way supported by the BEA and adopted by NWF”.

The Eco-Schools programme is now to be rolled out across the Island by Greenrock, which was granted associate membership of FEE last month.

Dr Landsberg explained the initiative encourages schools to work through seven steps following a particular ‘pathway' or ‘theme', such as consumption and waste, or energy. Schools that complete the seven steps can be awarded the Eco-Schools ‘Green Flag' by Greenrock.

Greenrock education director Abbie Caldas said: “We have already started working with a number of public and private schools and the Bermuda College, and we look forward to expanding this programme to all the schools in Bermuda”.

The organisation has, for the past six years, operated a school ‘Roadshow' raising awareness of environmental issues and inspiring students to take action at home, at school and in their communities. In 2009 this developed into a pilot ‘Green School' project with Elliot Primary, identifying significant improvements in the school which included making electricity bill savings, growing green produce, and conducting waste audits and waste reduction.

At last week's introductory workshops Victor Scott and West Pembroke schools chose “consumption and waste” as the first pathway to follow.

BEA executive director Sangita Iyer will assist the schools to implement the first three steps of the programme this month, and follow up with the two schools early in the new year before the BEA wraps up its work on the Island after five years. Ms Iyer was touched by the words of one of the workshop participants, former Victor Scott student Malaika Abdul Jabbar, who said: “My heart desires to help other people and my hands can make all that happen and my hands can reach out to help others and take other people's hands along with me on my road of making Bermuda a better place.”

Ms Iyer added: “BEA is excited to have paved the way for an island-wide Eco-Schools programme and connected Greenrock with National Wildlife Federation. Given that NWF has been in existence for 77 years, they are resourceful, and have successfully engaged more than 2,700 schools in the US in the Eco-Schools programme. I'm confident NWF will have much to offer the island, and will do so generously.”

Any students, teachers, parents, businesses or community members wishing to get involved or find out more are invited to contact Abbie Caldas via abbie@greenrock.org. Or to browse resources online, visit www.greenrock.org, or www.eco-schools.org.

Students of Elliot Primary work in the school's garden with Chris Backeberg of Greenrock, as part of the organisation's earlier ‘Green School' programme.
At the first Eco Schools workshop in Bermuda, held last week, former Victor Scott student Malaika Abdul Jabber spoke of her hopes for making Bermuda a better place.

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Published November 18, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated November 17, 2013 at 11:17 pm)

Eco-Schools programme to be rolled out across the Island

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