Zimbabwean Students Hold Walkathon to Protect Nature

If we are to make conservation central to sustainable development in the future, we must instill a conservation ethic in our children. Here’s an inspiring story from a teacher in Zimbabwe, whose school is doing just that.

student walkathon fundraiser in Harare, Zimbabwe

Second graders at Harare International School in Zimbabwe line up before starting their walkathon, which raised money for two environmental causes of the students’ choosing. (photo courtesy of Rory Parkinson)

As a second-grade teacher, there is nothing more rewarding for me than seeing children take action in response to what they have learnt. I was privileged to witness this firsthand several months ago when the grade 2 classes at Harare International School participated in a sponsored “walkathon” to support two very worthy causes chosen by the students: protection of rainforests in the tropics and rhinos in Matobo, Zimbabwe.

children participating in walkathon in Harare, Zimbabwe

The second-grade walkathon raised funds for two environmental causes: rhino protection in Zimbabwe and CI’s Adopt an Acre campaign. (photo courtesy of Rory Parkinson)

How did this come about? During our “Sharing the Planet” unit on rainforests, our classes used books, documentaries and the Internet to learn more about resources that come from our planet’s rainforests (especially the Amazon), as well as the impact of human behaviour on them. They were dismayed to discover the rate of rainforest destruction; an area of tropical forest about the size of England disappears every year.

For our walkathon, we spread the word among parents and the community and collected donations from many sponsors. We completed laps around the big field at school and raised an amazing US$ 2,820!

The students chose to donate $1,320 of this amount toward protection of rainforest areas through CI. We spoke to Dr. Will Turner, one of the scientists from CI, in a Skype interview, and he gave us some encouraging facts about the efforts being made worldwide to reverse the decline of the rainforests. Our donated funds will go to CI’s Protect an Acre campaign.

rhino in South Africa

Rhino in South Africa. Black and white rhinos are both threatened with extinction; part of the funds raised by the walkathon will go toward the construction of fencing to protect Zimbabwe’s rhinos from poaching. (© Rod Mast)

The students chose to donate the other $1,500 to support the purchase of 1 kilometer of protective fencing for the Matobo Rhino Protection Initiative. In total, 52 kilometers (32 miles) of fencing will be needed to provide the rhinos with the protection from poachers that they so desperately need. We feel very proud of our contribution.

It is exciting to see my students realise that although they’re young, they can still have a tremendous impact on the world around them. Instilling that belief at this age is important, as it will give them confidence to go on and make a real difference in the world.

I am grateful to all of the grade 2 pupils, parents, supporters and teachers for taking action so that our planet can be a better place.

Rory Parkinson is a second-grade teacher in Harare, Zimbabwe. Thanks to Claire Ingram for her help with this blog.

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