It’s a chilly January morning but the classrooms of the General Roxas Elementary School in Quezon City are heating up, abuzz with the chitter-chatter of nearly 100 students, discussing ideas and listening to WWF-Philippines National Ambassadors Marc Nelson, Rovilson Fernandez, plus a team of environmental educators from WWF-Philippines and Pascual Laboratories.
“Can you guys name all the vegetables in the song Bahay Kubo?” asks kuya Rovilson, alluding to a popular Filipino children’s song. “Regularly eating vegetables can build up your immune system and shield you from cough, colds and other sicknesses brought on by stronger typhoons,” he explains.
In the next classroom is kuya Marc, explaining how climate change is exacerbated by the burning of fossil-fuels. “Switching to renewable energy sources like wind power and solar parks can stop global warming,” he says as the other teachers hand out climate change brochures.
The duo recently participated in WWF and Pascual Laboratories’ SEED (Sowing to Empower, Educate and Develop) Programme, which aims to enhance local communities’ resilience to climate change by eliminating diseases and switching to healthier lifestyles through a proper diet, exercise, vitamins and good hygiene.
For the past five years, the programme has taught thousands of elementary school students about the vital link between climate change and health. Health conditions and diseases like asthma, heatstroke, leptospirosis, typhoid fever, cholera and so forth are spurred by climate change.
A study released in 2012 by the New York Academy of Sciences shows how climate change can dramatically spread vector-borne diseases such as malaria to many areas. The World Health Organization estimates that climate shifts are responsible for 6% of global malaria cases and that many communities in Asia and Africa are unprepared for more disease outbreaks.
“The floods caused by rains or the incessant summer heat can drive up incidences of leptospirosis or heat stroke,” explains WWF-Philippines Environmental Educator Dino Calderon, who also taught 80 students’ parents during the learning drive. “By simply washing our hands or remembering to hydrate before we go out of our homes, we can bolster our resilience to climate change. Our aim is simple – to promote better health via a better environment.”
The education sessions were held on 6 January 2017 for nearly 200 graders and parents from the General Roxas Elementary School. Concludes Pascual Laboratories’ Mia Pascual-Cenzon, “We cannot overemphasize the role of education in improving people’s lives. We are a poor country and are very vulnerable to climate change. By educating the next generation of kids, we can inculcate the right values to allow them to adapt and help stop climate change. We’ve been doing this for five years and we hope that our partnership will have an impact on the lives of our students.”
As the day’s sessions ended, kuya Rovilson reminded the students, “Don’t forget to pick up your trash and throw them into the proper waste bins. Small acts can make a big difference when we work together.”