Embracing the future - All about the children
We are always looking for ‘How to get our message across’ and particularly ‘How to engage with the next generation of conservationists’, but what happens when the ‘next generation’ approaches you? This was the enviable situation that PAAZA Executive office found itself in when approached by Heindrich, an 11 year old scholar.
This young Boy has an absolute passion for conserving wildlife, particularly endangered species and on his own, had researched Associations that he felt he would like to partner with; he chose PAAZA and by extension, WAZA. So how best to harness this passion: you create a fresh, new aspect to the PAAZA portfolio – the PAAZA Junior Conservation Club (JCC). This is another incredible development from the ‘Born in Africa’ stable and was conceived by an 11 year old Boy.
In a mere two months, the PAAZA JCC has grown from a vision of one passionate young boy and his friend raising awareness for Tigers one Saturday morning at a busy shopping centre, to a club of 22 like-minded young scholars. They have already done a beach clean-up on Woman’s Day, are planning the next species awareness day and a wildlife excursion at a private game reserve. The most remarkable part – the ideas and information all come from the children with support from the senior members of the community – the Parents (like dragging the ‘litter turtle’ on beach clean-up day!). To ensure that they are seen to be an organised group and to have the required visibility, they all have personalised T-shirts and caps, again, an initiative from the children. This initiative is gaining traction with discussions in establishing the PAAZA JCC in another province well underway. The challenge – the youngsters have far more energy than the seniors!
We all state the children are the future ambassadors for wildlife conservation, but this is a whole different approach with the children driving the initiative and the experience within PAAZA adding the guidance, information oversight, and support role.
The activities of PAAZA are available through the PAAZA mobile app
Breaking News January 2020
In support of these enthusiatic children, PAAZA launched the 'Best Animal Spotter' competiton in January 2020. Not just a fun competition to get the children engaged with nature, but also a means to increase their knowledge base with the 'Field Guide' developed under the 'Born in Africa' stable - all available on their cellphones (or their parents!).
Activities from JCC Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
And then it went global - read the article in WAZA Flash news here