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There is a lot to talk and read about World Environment Day, the newspapers, the internet, social media is flooded with information, campaigns and movements. There is infact excess of information and I didn’t want to bombard my little kids with it as they would definitely not understand its crux by just telling them. I wanted to make them to do, to act, to make and not just see, read or hear. Being a trainer myself, I always believe that best way you teach is by making the participants DO what you just taught and the learning is reinforced.

So, this summer vacation I knowingly showed my boys how nature is affected by our deeds and it’s a very serious issue mankind has to deal with. So, serious that I dint really have to take them to planned places, pollution was everywhere we visited and the effects of climate change is evident and present everywhere around us. After all, how can I expect them to understand global warming, just sitting at home and putting on the air conditioner!! So, I took them out to witness the work being done on ground level, showed them the effects of pollution wherever possible even at places we visited for fun. I also scheduled craft activities revolving round the same topic.

This year the World Environment day is being hosted in India and the theme is Beat Plastic pollution. The basic and simplest way to support the campaign was to replace the plastic shopping bags with cotton ones. Although we shifted to cotton ones way back, I wanted the kids to get involved in the process of banning plastic and shifting to cotton ones, thus I made my kids paint the white cotton bags and gifted it to relatives. This being one of the ways to spend summer vacation.

Talking about sustainability there are many ways one can work towards it. I am glad I could take my kids to witness two such activities, one was on tree plantation and the other was a visit to a farm where the water and soil conservation work was on going. Similar to the ‘Water cup’ initiative by Paani foundation, however undertaken by the Government of Maharashtra. The kids here got to see the CCTs, loose boulder structures, etc. They were also explained the process of how the ground water level will rise by carrying out the water shed activity. Soon, they are to prepare a model for the same for their school science exhibition.

Wanting to do my bit as an Indian national this year’s Mother’s day I took my entire family for a very different activity. It was the seed ball preparation activity-‘Greenathon’. This initiative  is by an NGO ‘Shrunkhala’ and Greenathon- Navi Mumbai, which was supported by Mrs India Earth 17-18 Mrs Shweta Chaudhary.

The prime motive of involving kids was that they get to understand nature, be with nature and help in environment conservation. I decided to let them enjoy the mud play with their hands till their hearts content.

It was around 8 a.m. The beautifully painted hoardings and charts added color to the green backdrop created by the forest trees. We met at the base camp of the Kharghar hills and the event took off after the chief guest arrived, Mrs Shweta Chaudhary- Mrs India Earth.

The event started with the brief introduction of seed ball preparation activity where they introduced us to the various types of plant seeds and the process of preparing the clay, mud , soil mixture required to prepare the ball. There were a lot of kids who offered a patient hearing to the entire explanation. There were local people as well as foreign nationals who sat together and enjoyed the seed ball preparation. It was the first day of the event and there were 5 more different days on which this activity was to be carried out.

This was the 7th Edition of Greenathon Navi Mumbai Seedball Preparation, Sanapada, Navi Mumbai, 03 June 2018. Here are the statistics till date, more than 7000 seedballs prepared and distributed, more than 1000 Strong Environment Conscious people targeted across various hot spots and biodiversity rich areas including Navi Mumbai Runners Group, Cyclist Group, Pinkathon Group, students across Mumbai Schools and Colleges, Faculties, Rotary Club, Shrukhala, Green Souls, State Bank Of India Go Green Team, Rise for Good volunteers of Tech Mahindra, and many volunteers who came from far of places to be a part of one objective- make the earth more Green and Clean. It was a great way to connect people from various walks of life.

We were told to wait till the first showers of rain and let the balls dry before we could toss them in the mud. Today, 5th June, 2018 is the World Environment day and yesterday Navi Mumbai had the first spell of rain so just perfect timing to toss the seed balls.

We took our kids to an open space to toss the balls. The kids were overwhelmed to do the activity and my kids were overjoyed to witness the entire activity on their own. Since, we had kept the seed balls ready since past one month they kept asking when to plant them and today finally the day arrived. Meanwhile we planted the seeds given to us by Greenathon in a pot. I had made all the kids from my society plant those seeds and within 2 days the seeds sprouted and tiny saplings were see .The kids were full of joy as if they did a huge task, but at the same time they learnt to have patience with the seed balls.

It was a small event that lasted for 3 hours but it taught my kids patience, joy from doing  work on their own, completing task in hand, being gentle in preparing the balls, listening and following instructions, group work, sharing and caring… and so much more. This summer vacation we knowingly and unknowingly dedicated time and energy in activities revolving around environment and some fruitful family bonding.

I hope I have been able to nurture the seed of COMPASSION TOWARDS MOTHER NATURE, in my children by doing all this.

Aarti Mardhekar Kagwade

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