What if I told you that 80% of Nigerian youths lack a basic environmental education? What if I told you that 70% of young people around the world do not care about the environment they live in? Yes!
Now, before you begin a ‘I-want-to-proof-it’ research, know that the truth, the bitter truth won’t be found in data logged on some computers or books stacked in libraries. The clear confirmations that we are far from Nature stare at our faces: the gully erosion that swept a whole community last week, the daily depletion of the ozone layer and her cancerous effect, the air pollution that annually chokes millions of children to death around the world, the mindless exploitation of wildlife, and the list is endless. Indeed, we are disconnected from Nature!
Today, how many parents will have their kids tend a garden, prune a flower, plant a tree, go fishing in a local river, climb mountains, engage in environmental education or even at the least, take a long evening walk across the field? How many?Growing up I relished the moments we (children) spent in groups; gathering fruits, breaking dried nut, cutting grasses, catching grasshoppers, building mud houses with our foot, playing hide-and-seek game in banana plantations, dancing in the rain, ‘cooking’ with sand, used cans, green leafs, clay and pieces of rocks. That was what my generation enjoyed, the generation before mine enjoyed even more. Now, what will become of the next generation? How can they be made to connect with Nature?
This time and age, we rather would turn on the Wi-Fi for them to ‘go live’ during a politician’s tree planting ceremony, we would rather encourage them to create a Whatsapp group with the name – SaveTheEarth, we would rather jump on the hashtag #WorldEnvironmentDay, and what have you. Great but not effective, there are better ways we can connect young people with Nature.
So much lies on the shoulders of people who understand what is at stake. Pro-environmental agencies and organizations in countries around the world would do the next generation a whole lot of good, if they can team up to toe the line of groups like America’s EarthCorps International Corps Program, 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, and others support programs that creatively, patiently and effectively engage young people in environmental restoration activities that practically ‘connects’ them with Nature.
Environmental impact – positive or negative is not limited by boundaries. If you will help connect a young child with nature today and I do same right here, we can hope that it becomes a lifestyle for them, a culture that grows and sticks with the next generation – that alone is a great achievement.
As we encourage ‘young’ people to connect with nature by participating in public readings, open mics, street walks, social media campaigns and other 21st century approaches that seek to promote the environment; we should often remind them that the effort to connect with Nature is beyond chats, tweets and talks.
We must strive to become more environmentally conscious; we must put into practice everything we can, gradually, till it becomes a habit to connect with Nature. This will be realistic if we begin with the youths.
Written by Adebote ‘Seyifunmi from Abuja, Nigeria.