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Quito Painted Green

Quito Painted Green
“Nuestra responsabilidad como ciudadanos del mundo no es solo conservar lo que tenemos, sino también mejorarlo para los que vienen detrás de nosotros”

“Our responsibility as global citizens isn’t only to preserve what we have but to improve it for those coming after us” says Diego Casares, a member of the staff of Quito’s Mosaic Project. “Although adults have the means to make changes, kids have the spirit and driving force to propose and develop them,” he adds.

When Ecuador hosted its first Mosaic Programme on December 2007, the Chapter and the appointed staff were very excited. However they knew accomplishing the objectives of a programme as long as the one we had proposed would be a challenge. Our Mosaic has as its main objectives:

  1. Create an attitude of responsibility and action towards the environment
  2. Create an understanding of the environmental problems in Quito
  3. Develop skills in the participants, empowering them to educate their own community.

In recent years Quito has improved its sanitation and environmental care, but this is primarily the work of the city officials and the Mayor. The role of the community in accomplishing significant changes has been amazingly small. The levels of pollution in certain parts of the city are shocking and, since adults have become passive towards this situation, we thought this task should then be appointed to kids.

It wasn’t easy getting the project started, since environmental education isn’t a topic that is being addressed in many primary schools in Quito. We needed to find an institution that would agree to give a group of young people the space and time to share with and teach kids about the environment. Furthermore, it was important to find a place for the kids to apply their acquired knowledge about environmental protection, such as a park or a forest.

On March 2008, the “Quito Painted Green” Mosaic Project became a reality. It came as a great surprise when the Quito Mayor’s office offered to surrender the administration of a park to our local Junior Branch. But the great thing was that the school we needed was right around the corner! Federico Gonzales Suarez is a public primary school whose principal, Mrs Elizabeth Chicaiza, gave us all the support and space to show over 50 kids the basic ideas about environmental education. At first it seemed as if this project was going to be an impossible mountain to conquer. However, as we got more support from our home Chapter, the Mayor’s office and the community of Carcelén, we realised that it was possible to achieve our goals.

The project has been developed in different stages, where different parts of the educational circle are approached by different means.

In the first phase kids are shown, through conferences and games, different concepts and methods towards the protection and conservation of the environment. Events and activities, such as Environmental Week and Bicycle Day, were a success during this early phase where kids age 8-12 years discovered and understood the importance of being an agent of change in their community.

The second phase is directed at applying acquired knowledge to change the surroundings. This means that lectures on recycling, water conservation, and reforestation were given to parents and kids. Activities such as visiting YACU- the water museum in Quito, are part of this phase.

The third and last phase consists in applying all the ideas learned using adopted skills. The park that’s under the administration of our Junior Branch will be the centre of this phase. Planting trees, creating signs to post around the park, and inviting friends to participate in ‘mingas’ (Quichua word meaning a group of people getting together to achieve a common goal) will be key parts in acquiring an attitude of commitment and responsibility to their park and their community.

Although the project isn’t near to completion, it’s clear that the work that’s being done will have an impact on the people we’ve met during these past amazing months. Meeting kids and showing them ways to develop their neighborhood is one of the best ways to create a movement in one’s city and we hope this replicates all over our country. As a result of this process we have learned more than we thought possible and we keep on learning as the project unveils.

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