“Into the future” with the Happy Earth Forum – Friederike Voigt

This year’s Sunday Tribune Garden Show theme “into the future” was a fantastic opportunity for participating Happy Earth organisations to share their challenging environmental messages. The entrance to the Happy Earth hall was dotted with thought-provoking headlines that gave a chilling insight into possible future world environments : “New war on drinking water” – “Antarctica home for last rhino”- “Townbush road covered in mudslide” to name a few. The Hall itself was beautiful – light and filled with inspiring displays that aimed not only to educate, but to give practical tips how we can all do something different for the sake of our planet.

Many children had fun following the blue and black footprints that ran through the hall, giving ideas how we can reduce our water and carbon footprint. The exhibits in the hall were of an exceptionally high standard with 5 organisation receiving Gold Medals : PMMBT P.E.A.C.E. project; Karkloof Conservancy/ Endangered Wildlife Trust; KZN Wildlife S’Fundimvelo; Happy Earth Forum :Habit@Earth; and KZN Natal Museum. Three organisations were awarded with Gold with Laurels : WESSA Umgeni Valley; KZN Wildlife KidzClub and SANBI.

Most displays had an interactive component and old and young visitors alike had lots of fun learning about worms and worm farms (KZN Natal Museum), a scavenger hunt (PMMBT P.E.A.C.E.Project), catching and looking at small water insects (DUCT) or walking on the barefoot path (Happy Earth Forum). The Botanical Society was especially interested in the opinion of young people and their ideas about what we need to do for the future of a Happy Earth. The children coloured in leaves, wrote messaged and posted them in a box under a beautiful ‘future’ tree.

In an effort to make the Sunday Tribune Garden Show more child and family friendly, a joint stage program with the Just Boutique Kidz zone was developed for the first time. Parents could relax in the Sunflower tea garden, while the children were entertained and educated in a fun way with a puppet show, street theatre, fun race, story telling and enviro-quiz all aimed at sharing environmentally relevant topics. Tanya Visser kept the children enthralled with her ‘build an insect hotel’ activity while the Natal Museum’s “I spy a bug in a box” was a big hit! All in all the KidsZone tent was a huge success.

Fantastic prizes were up for grabs for children that bought the ‘Wander-map’ and followed Mtini, the otter through all 3 venues, the Happy Earth Hall, ABI Schools Hall and Just Boutique KidzZone, while looking for his animal friends from around the world.

To learn more about the Happy Earth Forum, contact its Coordinator, Friederike Voigt (082 7796766) or email happyearthforum@gmail.com . Like us on facebook Happy Earth Environmental Education and Sustainability Forum, be inspired and be informed about many environmental education events happening near you throughout the coming year.

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Green heart: Children showed solidarity with the world wide climate change walk on the 21 September and build a green heart with Tanya Visser (The Gardener), Pandora Long (PMMBT P.E.A.C.E. project) and Heather Murray (WESSA Umgeni Valley)

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Botsoc_tree: Children could leave a message for a Happy Earth at the future tree of the Botanical Society