The enthusiastic students at Kola Perumal Chetty Vaishnav Senior Secondary School in India, under the guidance of teacher Smt. K.R. Meenalochani, have been making amazing strides in tackling environmental issues on a local level. Not only have Kola Perumal students submitted strong entries into the Volvo Adventure (a competition which rewards student groups which take decisive action on local environmental issues), in 2008 they were the winners of the Green I competition held in Mumbai with their project Greenery generates life, so let us generate greenery.
Thanks to their impressive efforts, the school now boasts 8 rain water harvesting systems on campus, a roof-top garden on the main school building, solar hot water generators, and a drip-irrigation system. It’s efforts like these, small in scale though they may be, which go a long way to tackling climate change and building a sustainable future for us all.
Greenery generates life, so let us generate greenery…
Green I is an India-wide competition which asks students to come up with three ways in which they could reduce their school’s carbon footprint, and awards the winning school with Rs. 7.5 Lakhs (approx. $US16, 700) towards putting these plans into action.
In a competition with over 100 other schools participating, the team comprised of Prinshu, M. Ranjani, G. Manasa, S. Prathiba and K.R. Archana managed to romp home as the 2008 winners – pretty impressive huh! It certainly helped, though, that they had the full support of school staff, including school Princiipal Shri L. Neelakanta Pillai.
As a result of their fantastic win, the school has been able to:
1) Establish a rooftop garden. Not only do plants help to soak up some of the school’s carbon emissions, they can also reduce the amount of sunlight reflected back into the atmosphere from the roof, reduce the need for air-conditioners in hot weather by reducing the local temperature, and increase urban biodiversity. Kola Perumal even have birds beginning to nest in the garden!
2) Install solar hot water generators. This has provided a clean and sustainable source of energy to meet their hot water needs.
3) Put in place a rainwater harvesting system to collect and store rain water for re-use. In an area prone to flooding, this system helps the school to manage water flow within the school grounds. It also reduces their burden on other communal water systems, and provides irrigation for their roof-top garden.
Find out more about this competition further down below!
Save Rain Water – Every drop has life
But that wasn’t all they were working on in 2008. In what must have been a very busy year at Kola Perumal, Meenalochani also had a second group of students enter the Volvo Adventure! This competition is global in scale, but has similar aims, rewarding groups of students who are making a positive impact on their local environment.
For this competition, Kola Perumal students focused their efforts on capturing and storing flood water from across the school campus, and implementing a drip-irrigation method to distribute that water through the school’s gardens.
“Our school is 35 years old and the oldest school in Arumbakkam. It is situated in a low lying area. Flooding is a major problem which affects our school every year. We saved the flood water from draining and entering the sea. We also saved our school from the flooding and promoted plant growth in our school. We are proud to save every drop of rain water,” explains Meenalochani.
Though their entry may not have won them the competition, it was certainly worth the effort as they are now far better prepared to handle both floods and droughts, and their water conservation will have resounding effects throughout their local community.
Think globally, act locally
A saying we’re all by now familiar with, but one that this awesome group of students have gone out of their way to put into action – THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY. We could all learn a thing or two here about positive action!
So what can you do? Any school group can enter the Volvo Adventure, and if you live in India, your school is no doubt eligible to enter Green I as well. We’ve listed some quick facts about each of these competitions below to help you get started, but REMEMBER, it shouldn’t take a competition to kick-start you into action!
All you have to do is look around you and think about changes you could make to your local environment, be it your home, school, workplace, local hangout. What do you need to put those plans into action? What do you have? Who could help you out? Get others on board – not only will it make your job a heck of a lot easier, it’ll also be a whole lot more fun!
It doesn’t take a cataclysmic event to change the world, just YOU!
A few quick facts about Green I
- This is an India-wide competition open to school groups, encouraging environmental conservation awareness and pro-activity.
- The competition is a joint initiative between the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Young Indians (Yi) and Carrier Aircon.
- The competition’s topic changes every year, but always with an environmental theme. Their 2011 guidelines are not out yet, but you can check out their 2010 guide for a start at http://yibangalore.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Green-I-2010.pdf . Otherwise, keep an eye out online for their forthcoming release.
- The prize for the winning school is Rs. 7.5 Lakhs.
Volvo Adventure: What you need to know
- Volvo Adventure is a competition seeking to reward young people engaging in practical environmental action around the world. It asks them to identify a local environmental issue and come up with solutions to tackle it.
- It is run as a partnership between Volvo and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- Past winning entries have included aquaponics (symbiotic cultivation of plants and aquatic animals), water conservation, species protection, plastic-bag use reduction and energy conservation awareness projects, to name just a few.
- The 2011 entry deadline is 31 January 2011. 1st prize is $US10,000, 2nd prize is $US6000 and 3rd prize is $US4000. All finalists receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Göteborg, Sweden, to attend the finals.
- For those too young to enter, the Volvo Adventure also runs a second competition for 10-12 year olds asking them to identify a local environmental issue and create a cartoon strip on the topic and possible resolutions.
- This competition ends 28 February 2011
Our Australia-based volunteer Nicolla interviewed a direct Volvo-person, Wayne Talbot, to get more info for you, the aspiring Change-makers
Can you tell us, in your own words, what the Volvo Adventure hopes to inspire and why?
The Volvo Adventure has been a collaboration with UNEP that stretches back over a decade. It was and is a remarkable privilege to be involved in an award that rewards the practical actions young people take to solve the environmental problems they encounter. When other people are talking, these people are actively working to solve problems. This is a way for those young people to receive international recognition
How long have you been involved, and in what capacity?
I feel old but have to say, I’ve been involved since the beginning. I work with young people and the different staff at UNEP to promote the award. I also help produce the support materials, help organise the final and try to find mechanisms to get young people to enter their practical projects.
Do you find it a rewarding experience?
It is amazing. I get to meet the people who are making difference now and will be making a huge difference tomorrow to the world around us. Each year projects come forward that are astounding. Everything from aquaculture in paddling pools providing food and preserving wildlife to making buildings from plastic bottles or saving and breeding rare types of animal. Knowing these amazing projects are being put on the world stage – how can anyone not get a great feeling about that? Giving young people centre stage and a chance to say: this is how it can be done.
Do you have a background in environmental work/projects and, if so, in any specific area?
Now I really feel old! For the last 20 years I’ve been helping different groups establish and set up projects that let young people monitor environmental problems or take action to solve them. I started off with an environmental science degree, moved into education and youth work before focussing on projects like this that give young people a voice.
How large and diverse was the latest round of entries into the Volvo Adventure?
Where do I start? If you go to the website you’ll see that they are all there – the aquaculture project won last time. www.volvoadvenutre.org
Finalists are invited to the finals, wherever they are held that year. What happens at that event, and is there anything further involved for participating students?
The final is hosted by Volvo in Goteborg, Sweden, every time it is held. The 5 days are a whirlwind of taking part in workshops meeting people, meeting people from UNEP, and this time UNESCO, WWF and different youth organisations such as the Scouts. All of them are there to offer advice but also to judge the finalists. The groups are given a chance to construct their own recommendations for UNEP, meet and work with Ozzy Ozone, question the experts – it’s a five day whirlwind of activity
Tell us a little about the 2010 winning projects
Visit the web site, again, www.volvoadvenutre.org
– their entry is there in their own words. They came from Mexico and spent an amazing time developing a simple way to breed fish in paddling pools. Simple, effective and still going.
Can you tell us a little about some of the projects that have really excited you? What made them such stand-out entries?
All of them –without exception. Young people everywhere from the most remote areas to the biggest cities are taking global environmental problems and turning them in to local action.
Do you have any advice for those considering entry in future years?
Just enter. Log on, register and enter. It’s that simple and it is another way of showing people internationally the amazing variety of positive action young people are taking.
Do you have any recommendations or advice for today’s youth who are looking to take environmental action?
Yes – loads. It’s all available on the Volvo Adventure website. Fortunately all the advice and packs are free to download, so just visit the site and have a look around.
- To find out more about entering the Volvo Advennture yourself, head to www.volvoadventure.org
- Find out more about what they’ve done at Kola Perumal School website http://www.kpcvs.in/
- To read the school’s article on their Green I competition win check out http://www.kpcvs.in/news/Green_I_Competition.htm
- Check out this article in The Hindu on Kola Perumal and other entrants into the Volvo Adventure 2008 http://www.hindu.com/yw/2008/03/21/stories/2008032150730600.htm
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Has got a hands-on career in the international development as she envisions to put an end to extreme poverty. Traveler-writer Nicola is also Involved as a general member with Getup! (Australian political advocacy organization), Avaaz (international political advocacy network), Kiva (microfinance sector), and Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC)