10 for 10 Greenbelt Youth Campaign Sparks Growing Passion for Ontario’s Greenbelt!

Students check out their newly depaved and planted greenspace. Credit: R.A. Riddell Elementary School.

A lot can happen in a year. For students and teachers at 10 schools across the Greater Golden Horseshoe this past year was all about celebrating their local environment and the Greenbelt!

In September 2015, EcoSpark in partnership with the Small Change Fund and Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation launched the 10 for 10 Greenbelt Youth Campaign, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Ontario’s Greenbelt.  Students and teachers from 10 schools participated with $1,000 each from EcoSpark to achieve their Greenbelt goals.

Many of our newest Greenbelt Ambassadors recognized a similar problem within their communities: not a lot of people are aware of how connected our everyday lives are to the Greenbelt. How did they solve this issue? By bringing classmates as close to the Greenbelt as they could, whether on bus tours, school awareness campaigns, or local greening initiatives to make sure everyone has access to some nearby nature!

Meet EcoSpark’s action-minded 10 for 10 Greenbelt Youth Campaign schools
Youth Greenbelt Awareness and Action Project - Dunbarton High School, Pickering
Bus tours brought over 100 students into the Greenbelt to learn about land use issues and conduct water quality research for biology class.

Do This, Not That - Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School, Grimsby
Community clean-ups and learning opportunities about the forgotten ‘R’s – repurposing and reusing with the Eco-Club!

Bee Beautiful - Toronto Islands School, Toronto
Planting new pollinator habitats and learning about the connections between the habitats and landscapes all around us.

Depave Paradise - R.A. Riddell Elementary School, Hamilton
Reclaiming space by restoring native plants and grasses to paved areas around the school.

Greenbelt Awareness and Revitalization Project - R.H. King Academy, Toronto
Greenbelt Student Ambassadors lead their peers on a tour of Rouge Valley Watershed and Ganaraska Forest.

Capture This Moment! - Palermo Public School, Oakville
Photography challenge to encourage students to capture and share the beauty of the Greenbelt and communicate threats to the ecology.

Building Nature Connection - Aldergrove Public School, Markham
Eco Fairs highlighting student projects about the environment with hands-on exhibits and lessons on how we can protect the environment together.

Give Trees a Chance - Bayview Secondary School, Richmond Hill
Planting over 100 trees to restore riparian habitat and encourage the return of birds and wildlife to the school area.

Greenbelt Mural - Uxbridge Public School, Uxbridge
Creation of a Greenbelt mural that brings to life the rivers, lakes and riparian habitats of the landscape

Ontario’s Greenbelt may have been the spotlight, but the true stars were the youth driving these projects! It doesn’t matter how close (or far) you are to Ontario’s Greenbelt; everyone has a role to play in protecting it.

“The Greenbelt is important to me not only because it's a part of my childhood, but also because it's great for my mental and physical well-being”, said Andrew Fryer of Dunbarton High School. “I hike and canoe in the Rouge Valley on a regular basis, as well as biking in Durham Regional Forest”.

Dunbarton Students

Dunbarton students learn about land use planning and conservation with staff from the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Christopher Williams, a teacher at Milliken Mills High School, also recognized the importance of engaging youth to solve environment issues in their community, “I’ve always taught my students that their actions, no matter how big or small, can have a positive impact. The Greenbelt gives us a chance to combat some of the effects of climate change and create food security.”

As the school year ends our 10 for 10 schools will be wrapping up their projects and celebrating their many accomplishments. This past year, youth showed us just how powerful their voices and actions can be!

To learn more about the 10 for 10 Greenbelt Youth Campaign and the schools and projects funded click here. Want to keep up with EcoSpark’s Greenbelt work? Visit our website.

Julia Martini

Environment Education Coordinator, EcoSpark

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