Kia ora tatou,
I have been asked to outline how St Joseph’s Feilding became an Enviroschool.
I will start with a very brief introduction to the Enviroschool Programme in our region.
Enviroschools is an environmental action based programme where young people are empowered to design and lead sustainability projects in their schools, neighbourhoods and country.
The programme was introduced to the Manawatu-Whanganui region in 2001 and has a Regional Co-ordinator at Horizons Regional Council.
By 2021 there were 85 Enviroschools from Early Childhood Centres to secondary schools in Manawatu-Whanganui and all city and district councils became funding partners by 2019.
St Joseph’s School in Feilding has recently become an Enviroschool.
Principal Anna Christiansen had experienced the Enviroschool programme during four years at her previous school and raised the idea at St Joseph’s. She said it had empowered teachers to be more aware of sustainability, changed their outlook and the way they lived.
Sarah Williams, the Enviroschools Regional co-ordinator from Horizons was invited to explain the Enviroschool programme, and what participation in it entails for a school and its community.
The necessity for buy-in from the whole school community was essential and this includes teachers, students, parents and families.
Enviroschools is not a tick box exercise but rather a normal part of everyday life, a long term sustainability journey.
St Joseph’s teaching staff had undertaken professional development papers last year to develop their understanding of Catholic Social Teaching principles including Stewardship.
They also explored the Te Tai treaty settlement stories and the Te Mana o te reo Maori education resources from Manatu Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. This provided a good base for introducing the Enviroschools Programme.
Stewardship has been chosen as the overarching theme for the 2023 school year with sustainability practices, in particular, being explored and developed.
Key principles of Catholic Social teaching include principles of Community, the Common Good, Participation, Rights and Responsibilities, Stewardship, Solidarity, the Dignity of Work and Workers’ Rights, the Option for the Poor and Vulnerable and the Promotion of Peace.
All these key principles of Catholic Social Teaching can be applied to the Enviroschools Kaupapa.
Over the years many initiatives have been undertaken at St Joseph’s underpinned by Catholic Social Teaching principles based on the belief that human life is sacred and the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society.
Examples are the development of raised gardens, compost bins, a worm farm, Young Vinnies, a Pataka Kai, participation in the Plant to Plate programme, and in Caritas Lenten Programmes which raise awareness of social and environmental issues at home and overseas.
St Joseph’s application to become an Enviroschool has now been accepted.
The St Joseph’s School community is now at the start of their official Enviroschool journey. They will have a Facilitator who will work with them on a one to one basis on their sustainability projects.
The Enviroschools aim is to foster a generation of people who instinctively think and act sustainably.
Where Sustainability means caring for each other and the environment, connecting with each other, with their cultural identity and with their land, valuing indigenous knowledge and celebrating diversity, to create a healthier, peaceful and more equitable society.
The teachers have already been to the Horizons Nursery in Feilding to learn where and how to collect seeds and seedlings and grow them on as part of an Enviroschools regional professional development opportunity.
A grant of $1000 has been received by the school this year for native plants with which they hope to create a sensory garden incorporating Maori Spirituality and a quiet prayer place as part of it.
If you want to know more about the programme and participating Enviroschools , there is a booklet online called Enviroschools Snapshot 2022 for the Horizons Region. It’s well worth a look to see the range of projects being undertaken in the region covering themes of Water for life, Zero waste, Energy, living landscapes and Ecological Building.
Enviroschools Booklet: Enviroschools Snapshot 2022, Horizons Region, Manawatu-Whanganui
Enviroschools homepage: https://enviroschools.org.nz/
Te Tai Treaty Settlement stories: https://teara.govt.nz/en/te-tai
Key Principles of Catholic Social Teaching