We arrive at the Carrizal School, everyone’s feeling slightly nervous as this was our first school talk and we were unsure what the response was going to be. Getting the children´s attention was not a problem as all eyes were on us from the moment we stepped onto the playground, carrying giant paper trees, litter costumes and hats.

After introducing ourselves to the group, we got started straight away in getting the recycling message across. This was achieved instantly with the interactive game we had planned that taught the process of differentiating recyclable materials. It was great to see them understand in such a short space of time as a louder reaction was definitely witnessed when the can/paper/bottle hovered over the correctly labelled bin.

With the classroom now fuelled with energy and enthusiasm for learning, we moved outside for our next activity; the competition between our recruited recycling amigos and the litter witches!

A scene full of litter waited the children outside - a common view in Nuevo Gualcho especially. Their task was to simply overturn the litter, as on the other side was green card that represented a cleaner environment. However, adding the enjoyable edge and the subtle suggestion of the need to do this repeatedly, there was the ‘litter witches’ turning the green back to litter.

After the success of their work and the ending of the game, the improved environment was acknowledged by everyone and it certainly gave an insight into how every litter scene could be changed with just a little bit of work.

So now the scene was set with our audience waiting, it was our time to shine after several afternoons and evenings practicing. 

Drama time!

The drama we had prepared was based around the rubbish witch who would always be there to stop you from having fun at the posa or playing football at the cancha, as there was too much litter covering and polluting the ground.

The point was to send the message that dropping litter, not only stops you from doing fun things in your environment, but also infects and endangers your surroundings. So from simply picking up your rubbish and recycling, it can create a difference and it can contribute to a greener future.

At the end of our school talk session, we designed and painted a tree trunk with the top half blank.  A promise was written on the trunk to look after my environment, by agreeing to recycle rubbish and throw away after themselves. 

Everyone queued up and took it in turns to put their hand in green paint, to make a promise to themselves on the tree top in the form of a handprint that would make up the leafs.

The response to this activity was over whelming. I really felt using the visual aid of a colorful, almost life size tree, helped engage everyone in the realities of the issues we were trying to portray.

The overall outcome felt really positive, with all the questions being answered correctly and even louder response when repeating the first game on what piece of rubbish belonged in which recycling bin.

Handing out sweets is always going to get a six year olds attention, but we were able to use this to our advantage as an instant reward in terms of getting the feedback we wanted to see. Leaving behind all the posters we had created and the promise tree they had been part of, we leave with the hope of it being a gentle reminder of our purpose and message… a cleaner Gualcho.

Written by ICS volunteers Helen Austin and Phil Taylor