Recycling Alternative has been working with students at Windermere Community School for the past few years by providing recycling and composting services for the Earth Day celebration at Grandview Park. We are always impressed by the hard work they put into the event each year and so we wanted to share the many other accomplishments the students have managed. The guest blog below was written by students Aaron Leung and Jonas Recuenco.
Windermere has received several awards and been recognized by organizations such as the City of Vancouver, Environmental Youth Alliance, David Suzuki Foundation, Vancouver Foundation, CCPA, Wildernesss Committee, BC Hydro, Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, Evergreen, BC Greengames (2 time winner), Global Agents for Change, Youth Ventures and many more, for our ability to engage youth in meaningful ways in projects we have worked on in the past, along with current endeavors. Some of these include:
- ACTION – a student led group that implemented a school wide BikeShare program. This involved a presentation at City Hall with the end result being a mandate from the CoV to donate bikes traditionally sold at the police auction, to schools and community organizations. BikeShare currently holds over 30 bikes that are student maintained in a large bike storage container obtained through various grants and donations.
- Windermere Organic Garden – Entirely student driven Organic food garden which includes 14 beds, a large greenhouse, and an aquaponics system (combination of aquaculture and hydroponics). The garden supplies food to the school cafeteria during the school year and is maintained over the summer by students. Additional food is sold at local farmers market as well as donated to Collingwood Neighborhood House’s Morning Star food program for low income individuals.
- GRASSROOTS – Leadership 11 students mentor elementary school students at 7 feeder schools in the area of Sustainability. The program involves Grade 11 students developing Sustainability lessons aimed at Gr6 and 7 students and delivering those lessons in a classroom setting and sometimes small conferences. This is followed by the implementation of sustainability projects and events at each elementary school under the guidance of Leadership 11 students. Eventually all students are brought together once again to highlight the work they did during the course of the year.
- School wide composting program run by leadership students – Waste from the cafeteria along with small bins distributed throughout the school are regularly collected and added to the compost system adjacent to the school garden. The compost program has a large Earth Tub compost system in the garden. As a result of the increased compost capacity within our school we have assisted several elementary schools in starting their own compost systems. We then collect their compost by sending out Leadership 10 students on bicycles with trailers as part of a Physical Education curriculum piece. In addition we collect compost in a similar way from a local community centre and seniors home. For the last 3 years we have managed to completely fill our earth tub, that’s 1.5 tons of food waste every year!
- C3 – Climate Change Conference held to coincide with the world climate conference held every year in December since 2009. This is a student organized conference that has brought together between 250-300 students from all over the lower mainland. The Conference has featured speakers such as Andrew Weaver, the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modeling and Analysis, Andrew Nikiforuk, author of To the Tar Sands, Seth Klein of the CCPA and many others.
- Earth Day Parade – Finally students began organising a youth-focussed Earth Day parade 2 years ago. This year’s Earth Day Parade, scheduled for April 20, 2013, seeks to bring elementary and secondary students together, along with adult allies, for a parade, celebration and day of learning. The event is planned as a celebration gathering with guest speakers, workshops, NGO tents, entertainment and bands. This event will be open to the public but targeted at students and seeks to build on the tremendous success of last year’s event which brought out close to 2000 people. Our hope is to emphasize our desire for urgent action on a variety of issues especially the lack of environmental action, and act as a catalyst for change towards a greener more sustainable future. We will also continue to focus on local issues such as tankers, pipelines and fracking along with efforts to raise awareness about the 1.5 degree threshold scientists use as a climate marker.