The message of the importance of nature is not something you can convey to a person overnight. It is a bond that needs to be developed slowly and personally for its full results. The best way to do this is to bring children closer to nature and introduce them to its wonders from a younger age. Then they would not be strangers to the natural environment and cherish every living and non living component there as their own.
On the third Saturday of March 2019 the final year Environment Science students of the Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, University of Colombo, took charge of the Wetland Weekend at the Diyasaru Park. The theme for the day was “Wet and Wild” in hope of introducing them to the importance and beings of Diyasaru Park in a fun, but knowledgeable way. The programme was for kids from 5 – 15 years.
An introductory discussion on what a wetland is and why we should conserve them paved the way to the lineup of activities prepared for the participants. The very eager kids jumped off their seats to go for the nature walk around the park to observe all sorts of insects, birds and animals living there. They were enthusiastic to identify them as they learnt to use binoculars and take notes of what they observed in the field.
After the walk the kids were given the chance to make their own pug prints. The materials and setup were arranged and organized in a well thought manner allowing the children to mix the plaster of paris and pour them on to the previously prepared moulds of pug marks. They were first taught the whole procedure and then each of them were given the chance to make their own. Then they had the chance to colour their plaster casts to take their own pugmark home with them.
By the time they were done with painting their plaster casts, the skies were getting ready to pour over the wetland. Everyone then moved inside the lovely huts of the Park specially prepared for activities. There the kids had the chance to make their own wetland with origami animals. They were taught how to make an otter, crocodile and a frog, and were given already prepared models, paper and glue to make a wetland the way they liked it.
Game time began after they all finished doing a great job of creating beautiful wetland models. It was a really interesting to see the children having fun identifying animals on pictures and helping their friends guess it correctly by describing their features. They participated voluntarily, and encouraged others to take part. They were learning the names and features of the wetland biota as a team through this exercise bonding in friendship although they were of different ages.
Coming to the end of the evening the kids had an interactive session to check on what they learnt and observed. Everyone gathered for a round of ‘let’s check on what we learnt today’. While some had enjoyed the painting session some said they loved their origami wetlands. Both the kids and their parents were beaming with joy by the end of the programme.
Wetland weekends are organized on the third weekend of every month alternatively for kids and adults at the Diyasaru Park, by the Urban Fishing Cat Project and SLLRDC. The sessions aim to spread awareness of the importance f urban wetlands among those living around them.
Photographs by Dinithi Hemachandra
Featured Image Courtesy of Diyasaru Park Facebook Page: https://bit.ly/31TLIWL