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Meet the #EWWRAwards finalists: Ildikó Szabó Bozókiné on waste education in pre-school

The EWWR Awards finalists have been announced! In each category, the Jury has selected their top 3 finalists. The winners will be revealed on 15 May in Brussels during the EWWR Awards Ceremony. In the days and weeks to come, we will introduce you the finalists one by one. Today, we would like you to present to you the initiative undertaken by Ildikó Szabó Bozókiné, a pre-school teacher from Csongrád County in Hungary. Her action was nominated in the Citizen(s) category.

Ildikó Szabó Bozókiné teaching pre-schoolers about waste and sustainable consumption
Ildikó Szabó Bozókiné teaching pre-schoolers about waste and sustainable consumption

What did your action consist of?

My initiative consisted in the development of a climate training programme for children, which I named Klimanócska (Climate Elf). Throughout the year, I gathered and organised a comprehensive amount of information about environmental activities involving children, parents, interested stakeholders and affiliated organisations. I then corroborated the material in a booklet. You can see the activities that I carried out as a result of this research on the Climate Elf Facebook page.

For EWWR 2018, I organised activities for children and their parents that consisted of learning games and tools in the Climate Elf Village. The action was developed throughout six days and covered different topics, such as the composting of organic waste, electricity and water use, selective waste collection and environmental conservation.

How did you come up with the idea?

The idea came from my personal commitment and the knowledge that I have and that I have been trying to pass on to my colleagues and to the parents of the children that I teach as much as possible. We integrate environmental policies on a daily basis into our educational work at the preschool. While studying to become a preschool teacher, I reviewed scientific articles and articles concerning different areas of climate strategy.

Using the knowledge I acquired during my training, I developed the “Climate Elf in Action!” programme, which employs the enrichment pedagogy method. The impact of this initiative is very long lasting, because children in whom we instill good habits and attitudes from a young age continue to practice those habits later in life.

Over the past forty years, waste reduction has received a great deal of attention in the European Union, where citizens are increasingly seeking to adopt zero-waste lifestyles in order to counteract climate change and the destruction of the natural environment.

I think that it is very important that the activities included in the “Climate Elf in action!” programme become permanent components of educational curricula. In the kindergarten where I teach, I revised the curriculum myself to make sure that it covers all the important environmental topics.

The easiest way to raise awareness among children is by organising competitions and games that test and help them hone both physical skills, but also their knowledge. Children learning through playing, so the ludic component is very important, particularly since some of the traditional teaching materials are dry and complicated, particularly as they relate to waste management. The latter do not encourage students to identify with the problem and become invested in finding solutions. In contrast, learning through playing provides a more engaging form of education about sustainable waste management.

How did this action contribute to waste reduction?

The objectives of the training programme were the reduction of food waste, energy efficiency, waste reduction, selective waste collection, environmental protection and the empowerment of the local community. The actions carried out as part of the EWWR had the same goals. However, I believe that it is necessary to carry out such actions year round in order for them to be more effective.

The ultimate objective of the initiative was to inspire behavioural change in students insofar as it concerns their approach to consumption and the use of resources. By involving them and their parents, I believe that the impact can be enhanced. After all, entire communities have to change in order for the impact to be more meaningful. Furthermore, it is important to emphasise the benefits of a low-consumption lifestyle, such as financial savings, when presenting the topic to communities.

Where can people reach you if they have questions?

They can reach me via email at szabadsagterovi [AT] heo.hu

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