Led by Linette Perez, a 4th grade teacher and the Upper Primary (UP) Service Club faculty advisor, students wrote down what issues they cared about and what they think they can do to help. It became clear that the students could most easily envision themselves helping the environment.
What Can Young People Do to Help Prevent a Global Crisis?
by Kaitlin Shum ‘24
How young can you start making a difference? One group of Grade 3-5 students committed their Thursday afternoons to service learning when they decided they could make a difference to the environment.
Redress Workshop: Students learned how to upcycle their old t-shirts into a tote bag by cutting the ends of the t-shirts and knotting them together.
While service clubs have long been at the heart of High School student life, the Upper Primary (UP) Service Club was only started in 2018, providing younger students with hands-on experience serving communities in need. “It’s really hard to find opportunities for young children to serve. Most opportunities have a minimum age limit or the issues are not suitable for young kids,” says Eugene Lee, a parent advisor of the UP Service Club. Eugene volunteered to help lead this club to explore how young students could best get involved in service in an authentic way.
After exploring needs around the world and causes that exist in our community, students in the UP Service Club voted on a single cause to focus their energy. While many students were passionate about addressing poverty and challenges for refugees, most felt that the environment was a cause they “can help with”.
UP Service Club members worked on promoting the May 10 Dragon Day workshop with a big statement to “Make the Earth Live Longer!”
To take action, the club looked at Redress and the YMCA Toy Bank as sources of inspiration–one that addresses sustainability in the fashion industry and one that educates the community about toys and plastics. After studying the facts around clothing’s negative environmental impacts and the sheer amount of plastic waste that comes from toys, the students were spurred into action. As young “changemakers”, they knew their first goal was to raise awareness about the importance of addressing the environment to their peers in the Upper Primary. So they went about putting their plan together.
Under all the glitz and glamour, the fashion industry has been a leading factor in waste production on earth. The fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, more than all the pollution from maritime shipping and international flights combined. Additionally, around 20% of all wastewater pollution comes from the fashion industry alone. These statistics are shocking, and it is obvious that action must be taken to make a difference in this field.
The club organized hands-on workshops and worked with the UP administration to offer them as Dragon Day activities. Dragon Days are all about choice, so club members set about promoting these sessions to capture the attention of their peers. They presented at assemblies, created posters, and learned how to submit an advertisement to the school newsletter.
After the Redress Workshop, students became more well-versed with the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. They were more aware of the detrimental effects of fashion waste and how it impacts our environment every day. Now, they can’t wait to see how the Toy Upcycling Workshop goes.
As with many HKIS programs, the foundational learning that happens in the primary years sets the stage for a deeper impact as students progress through the school. We can’t wait to see how these “changemakers” will lead service learning in Middle and High Schools!
See how a Kindness Walk set a 3rd grader’s heart on fire to help the homeless in Hong Kong.