Two weeks ago, on Saturday 19th March, we visited Asante Children’s Home in Naivasha. The schools are currently on a long holiday, and that means the children at the home are with their guardians. Fortunately, a month prior, I had arranged with the management of the home, to have the children present today for the art and mentorship lessons. Our main focus for the day was going to be Climate Change.
Bring a friend
Today is however a bit different. Every child has managed to bring along at least a child friend from the community. We are glad to see the children making friends beyond the home and into the community. It is this kind of togetherness that project NACAMP aims to achieve in establishing sustainable solutions against child violence and ensuring responsible citizen leadership among the children.
With the current equinox, it is too hot, and the sun is scorching, we cannot conduct our art activities outside. The classes are cooler, and so we opt for them. I had prepared my todays drawing lesson to align with equinox and major on awareness of Sustainable Development Goal 13 – Climate Action.
Once settled in class, I begin by writing two headings on the black board: DRAWING, then CLIMATE CHANGE. Immediately, one child raises up his hand and snaps his finger, to attract my attention, then asks “Teacher Kenn, what is climate change?”. I enquire from the other children if anyone knows what it is, and several hands goes up. “It is the change of seasons, like when it’s hot and dusty and then the rains come”, says one child. “It is when you go from a place with hot weather to a place with cold weather”, says another. The answers go on and on for a couple of minutes. It is the first time they are hearing and learning about Climate Change. They all have a clue, though none can clearly point out what climate change is all about. So, what really is Climate Change? I am not an expert on that area, but this is going to be an interesting art lesson.
A quick recap on basics of drawing, for the sake of the community children, then I sketch on the board. It is an illustration of a person sitting under a single tree shade, with no other tree in sight. The illustration also has sun, grass, and a water body in it. I then go ahead and explain the correlation of each element of the illustration. This entails the roll of trees in the environment, and how deforestation affects rain patterns, which in turn affects the water bodies, which in turn affects clean air and atmosphere, that results to unfiltered heat from the sun, ultimately resulting to death of the rest of the vegetation and increased temperatures.
I then invite the children to expound on my explanation of the illustration on the board. I go ahead and give a few more examples of causes of climate change; from littering to plastic pollution, toxic fumes, and gas emissions to overutilization of natural resources, and what have you. The conversation begins to take shape, and their understanding of climate change begins to sink in. At this point, we agree for everyone to make a drawing of their understanding of climate change. Immediately, the room goes silent, with constant smooth sounds of rubbers hitting the sketchpads, and pencils being sharpened.
About 20 minutes later, and everyone is done. Each of the children gets the opportunity to present and explain their drawing, in relation to climate change, to the rest. As they present, they begin to ask questions and find answers among themselves. A positive conversation is slowly brewing.
Once we are done, they walk out looking more determined and curious. “We should collect all the plastic bottles besides the road, to avoid contaminating the nearby river Karate”, I overhear one of the boys say. He is seconded by two other boys. They immediately begin by collecting the small pieces of paper right outside the class.
“Last year we planted some trees in our school, once they are grown these high temperatures will be no more”, I overhear a girl’s voice say. “Yes, and we also need to have the whole town covered with trees, for shade and rain”, another girl replies. “I love rain and I love the sweetness of rainwater”, goes another girl.
Today was one of those many days we learn through art. Today, we learnt about Climate Change.
Author: Kenneth Kamau is the Founder and CEO of Art for Children Foundation (A4C)