Sustainability Champions. This project created by Henkel Slovakia is aimed at children in the 3rd and 4th grades of elementary school. How to teach children about energy conservation in a playful way? Come to the Old Market Hall on 13 November and stop by the Sustainability Champions booth at the Responsible Marketplace. You can find out a bit more in the following interview with Zuzana Kaňuchová, who is responsible for Henkel’s corporate communication.
What was your motivation to start this project?
We were inspired by the saying “If you want to change the world, start with yourself first”. As a response, employees of Henkel Slovakia started teaching lessons at elementary schools all over Slovakia. The target group for this project is children in the 3rd and 4th grades of elementary school because they do not have environmental education as a separate subject at school. The topic is simple: teaching them how to be considerate of the environment and serve as role models for their siblings, parents, and surroundings. Thanks to around 100 ambassadors, more than 5,000 children at dozens of schools all over Slovakia attended the Sustainability Champions project last year. This alone could potentially save as much as 50 million liters of water or 2.6 million kWh of electricity.
What is the intended impact of this project on the children’s households?
We realize that unless we change our habits we will need five planets by 2050. Our project brings a demonstration lesson to the 3rd and 4th grades of elementary school, employing playful methods to teach children how they can easily save water and energy or reduce the amount of waste they produce. The interactive lesson led by employees of Henkel Slovakia gives children practical advice on how to protect the environment by:
- turning off taps when they don’t need any water (for instance while they are washing their teeth);
- turning off the lights when they leave a room;
- completely turning off the TV (instead of just using the remote control since a TV in standby mode still consumes power);
- closing the refrigerator immediately after they take out food;
- using cloth wipes instead of single-use paper towels;
- using towels in a way that removes the need to wash them too often.
What makes Henkel a sustainability champion?
Our volunteers participating in this project have to attend a special training session. They also receive all the materials they need to lead an interactive lesson, such as an animated video where the Earth appears as a character. After receiving tips during the lesson, the students become young ambassadors who spread awareness about sustainability in their families, homes, and surroundings. Our plan for 2017 was to present the principles of sustainability to 3,000 children, which we managed to do as early as June. We motivate our employees to go back to their schools, meet their former teachers, and prepare a useful lesson for children. Thanks to this approach, we currently have more than 100 ambassadors and we can proudly announce that as many as 7,000 children have attended our lesson.
Why did you decide to participate in the project?
We realize that households and individuals ultimately have a big say in how resources are used. We try to reach them early on so that every child brings this philosophy to his or her family and motivates others to join. Moreover, it is a nice opportunity for our employees to visit the schools where they studied and influence the environment they grew up in.
Do you have any interesting experiences, insights, or impressions from these lessons?
All of our experiences are positive because the children like seeing new people at school and they also find the topic interesting. The whole lesson is structured in a playful way and it ends with all children receiving a small present as a reward for being active and a reminder to share their newly-gained knowledge with their families. We even have parents who send us feedback, mentioning that their children have started to implement what they learned at the lesson, such as waste sorting or saving water when cleaning their teeth. Some of them are actually very strict and require their parents and grandparents to do the same. We believe that our small ambassadors will help spread awareness among all family members.
Learning about sustainability and ecology can be fun and useful at the same time. Last year, the students at the Primary School at Nobelovo námestie 6 in Bratislava had the opportunity to see this for themselves. “The importance of sustainability is becoming more and more evident at our school. Because of this, we really appreciated it when Henkel Slovakia decided to organize an interactive lesson at our school. The students enjoyed it very much, learning in a playful way how important it is to conserve all types of energy in order to protect the environment. I hope that they will further develop the knowledge they gained today and use it in their everyday lives, both at home and in school,” commented the school’s principal Valéria Fogašová.
Any school in Slovakia can participate in the Sustainability Champions project by registering at the www.sampioni.sk website set up by Henkel Slovakia. The site contains everything you need to know about the project as well as a quiz where you can test your knowledge.