DDSB Elementary Students Commit to Climate Action

Posted On Tuesday November 05, 2019
L-R: Lincoln Alexander PS students Diya, Kiara, Lakshita, and Teacher Cheryl Forstner look for clues at the Durham Forest Environmental Education Centre during the Climate Change Scavenger Hunt session.

Students gather to brainstorm and bring eco-initiatives back to their schools

“I hope this is the beginning of something that can be yearly, and I’m excited to see what these kids come up with,” says Lauri Geuzebroek, EcoSchools Facilitator at the Durham District School Board (DDSB) and organizer of the Elementary Eco Summit.

On October 21st, students from 22 DDSB schools gathered at the Durham Forest Environmental Education Centre in Uxbridge to collaborate and share ideas regarding eco-programs they can use in their schools. Each school involved is an official EcoSchool, and the attending students are part of their school’s eco team.

EcoSchools Canada is an environmental education program that offers a certification for Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools. To qualify, schools must submit an application showcasing their commitment to environmental learning and climate action. During the 2018-2019 school year, the DDSB had a total of 38 certified EcoSchools.

Learning from Eco-Mentors

The DDSB has hosted Eco Summits before, but Geuzebroek says this one is different, “This year we have 11 students from three of our secondary schools (Anderson CVI, Dunbarton HS, and Pickering HS) leading sessions for our elementary students.” She adds that the secondary students are key because they are sharing first-hand knowledge on what eco-programs did and did not work in their schools. Another major benefit of bringing in the secondary students is that they do legacy networking with younger students to provide assistance to them in the future, as they begin to implement their own eco-initiatives.

Students rotated through five sessions, and discussed topics such as the problem with plastics, how to create a pollinator garden at their school, climate change, and building bee hotels to help solitary bees (bees that do not live in colonies) in the pollination process.

In the Pollinator Garden session, students started off by suggesting programs they can start at their school, along with a pollinator garden. “We could try a weekly yard cleanup outside and around the school,” says Saniya, a Grade 8 student at Alexander Graham Bell PS. Afterwards, students collaborated to find the best location to build a pollinator garden by sketching a rough floorplan of the outside of their school.

“I want them to have tangible ideas that they can take back to their schools,” explains Geuzebroek. She adds, “My hope is that they can think of at least two initiatives they would like to work on with their school over the course of the year, and then at the end of the year they’ll be able to say, ‘we successfully made a difference.’”