Listening to the Community’s Needs
On March 16, 2012 the Costa Rican environmental and educational non-profit, ARCAE, hosted an educational workshop for the children of Punta Banco, a small coastal community located along Costa Rica’s Southern Pacific coast. The event was part of the organization’s ongoing marine research and rural education initiatives in the area.
The event was originally designed to be a marine species educational workshop for the town’s 26 elementary school children. Plans changed, however, when ARCAE members asked Punta Banco community leaders what they thought the town’s children should be exposed to. As it turned out, parents and members of the school’s board of managers felt the event should focus on trash and the importance of proper garbage disposal.
Community members told ARCAE that a major town concern was all the trash left behind by tourists—mainly Costa Rican tourists who camp along the area’s beaches and leave them littered with garbage at the end of their vacations. Residents said the problem is so bad that local children actually follow this poor example and dispose of their own trash in the same way.
ARCAE learned that Punta Banco’s Development Association has purchased a number of large trash bins and will be placing them around the town at various camping areas. Because of this initiative, residents felt the children’s educational workshop should be dedicated to the issue of proper garbage disposal. Since hoards of tourists will flock to Punta Banco in 2 weeks for Semana Santa (Easter Week), various community members also felt it would be a good idea for the children to make signs to be hung up around town saying how all trash should be put in the new trash cans.
And that’s how a marine fauna workshop evolved into a waste disposal workshop. Various town members obtained scrap wood from construction sites to be used as signs. When it came time for the event, the town’s children decorated these signs, participated in a beach clean-up, watched videos and presentations on the health risks associated with pollution, and completed a workbook created by ARCAE’s cofounder Ingrid Rojas.
If you would like more information on the methodology used to develop and implement this type of rural environmental education program, write to Ingrid at firstname.lastname@example.org.