Environmental Education Day


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Environmental Education Day (Smuts House)

Volunteer Report Back

By Helene Vermeulen

This was my first SOAPkidz event and being appointed as the first aid officer for the day was daunting in its own right. Luckily there were other trained staff around and except for a sprained ankle the day went off without any major challenges.

I was not sure what to expect from the children and the day per say. The enthusiasm and excitement was palpable as we walked with the children to Smuts House and this set the atmosphere for the whole day. I really enjoyed talking to the children and learning from them. It was so nice to be with a group of positive and enthusiastic people who were happy to be out in the sun, enjoying the day and this atmosphere and the sense of hope will stay with me!

I really enjoyed doing something worthwhile and had lots of fun doing it!

Environmental Education Day (Smuts House)

Event Report Back

By Penny Patrick & Stuart Martin

On the 19th of May 2012, 100 children from the Irene Middle School enjoyed a day out in nature whilst learning about their inner and outer environment. Although it was the 8th year that the SOAPkidz Environmental Education day has been hosted, it was the first time it was held in Irene.

The big day started 2 weeks before the event, when we visited the school to teach the learners about the value of recycling. This awareness clearly paid off. The entrance fee was at least one bag of separated litter and adding the 58 volunteers “entrance fees”, a whopping 105 bags of separated litter were handed over to Karen from Easy Recycling. This was the start of a long term initiative to promote recycling at the school and hereby promote a positive environmental message.

The day started with all the volunteers arriving at the Irene Middle School and getting ready for the children to start arriving. Kim Andreou and her team of volunteers had prepared breakfast and each of the children had a warm meal after completing their recycling activity. The children had really gone out of their way to bring recycling on the day and we hope that this enthusiasm may have rubbed off on other people in their communities.

As usual the volunteers were asked to come in funky hats made from recycled material and many of the children also took part in the activity. This is very important in every SOAPkidz event as the volunteers get to become children for a day and this always breaks the ice.

After the hike to the Smuts House, all the children were made to feel special by participating in group activities. The children were divided into groups who participated in activities focused on both their inner and outer environments. These included:

• A treasure hunt throughout the ground of Smuts’ House where the children were taught to read maps and had to find clues which taught them about the museum and the surrounding environment.
• Each of the ten groups got to plant a tree in the Smuts House Arboretum which would grow as memory of the event. For many of the children this was the first time they had planted anything and they really enjoyed this special activity.
• An introduction to snakes, where the children all got to see a Ball Python called “Bullet”. The shrieks quickly turned into curiosity and the brave got to meet “Bullet” up close.
• The “inner environment” time was spent looking at how negative emotions that we hold on to can dis-empower us, with the emphasis being on living our lives in kindness, love, respect and co-operation.

After the environmental activities, it was time for every team to perform an earth song, which had everyone in stitches and the groups got really carried away.

The competition amongst the groups was tough and prizes went to the team who brought the most separated litter, the team that won the treasure hunt and the team that performed the best earth song. Every child also received a photo of his/her team and a “Green Warrior” certificate. The dancing on the stage was so enthusiastic that we broke the band stand which the Irene Market had erected and we needed to apologise to them for that! It just shows what happy and enthusiastic children can do!

Before everyone departed, a big circle was formed and the message that everyone was worthwhile and that we are all worthy of respect including the environment was once again spread.

Other than the volunteers who were so willing to donate their time, there were a number of local concerns who were generous in donations.

Special Thanks you to:
• Smuts House for welcoming us to their venue
• Ron who is the caretaker of the Smuts House Arboretum who assisted in digging the holes in this rather rocky environment
• Karen from Easy Recycling for organizing all the recycling collection and bags
• Irene dairy for supplying milk for the children’s breakfast
• Woolworths (MySchool) for providing food and water
• Willow Feather Farm Nursery for the 10 indigenous trees and fertilizer
• Irene pharmacy for taking care of all the photo developments
• Kim Andreou and her volunteers for all the catering
• Irene Market who needed to fix their band stand after the event

Environmental Education Day at Irene

Event info


Download the INVITATION with MAP here.

Our aim with this event is to have 100 underprivileged and vulnerable children and the many volunteers that assist, walk away with HOPE in their hearts and the realization that they and the environment are interconnected and special.

This will be the sixth year that we will be hosting this event.

You are hereby invited to participate and assist with our Environmental Education Day on 19 May 2012.

The aim of the event is to involve underprivileged and vulnerable children from the local community in initiatives which include environmental education related activities as well as a personal enrichment programme. Here the 100 children (Grade 6 and 7) will experience personal growth and be taught to deal with day-to-day challenges they may face.

VENUE: Irene Middle School and Smuts House
DATE: 19 May 2012: 06h30 till 15h30. Official hike to Smuts House starts at 08h30
CHILDREN: The children are from the Irene Middle School
PROGRAM: The programme for the day includes the following activities:


Irene Middle School
06:30 – 07:30  Volunteers arrive, set up registration table  Prepare breakfast
07:30 – 08:00  Arrival of children, who receive breakfast before the day’s activities begin  Registration of teams
08:00 – 08:30  Sorting the separated litter that was brought  Taking the team’s pictures

08:30 – 09:00 Hike to Smuts House

Jan Smuts House
09:00 - 10:45
Group 1: Journey Process
Group 2: Environmental activities
10:45 - 12:30
Group 1: Environmental activities
Group 2: Journey Process
12:30 – 13:00 Lunch and taking group picture
13:00 – 13:30 War Cries
13:30 – 14:10 Prize Giving, thank you song and Circle of Life

14:10 – 15:00 Hike back to Irene Middle School

15:00 – 15:30 Irene Middle School Debriefing session for volunteers

The Journey is a formal activity where the children learn to welcome all emotions, access shutdown emotions and then are given tools to experience life‘s challenges in a more healthy way leaving them feeling more free and empowered. This is a very uplifting experience and contributes to the children’s wellbeing and personal growth.

The Environmental Activities includes the following:

  • Tree planting in the Smuts House Arboretum in collaboration with Friends of Smuts House.
  • A Litter collection and litter art activity where children are taught about recycling and litter and also make a piece of art, i.e. a sculpture from the litter.
  • A treasure hunt around the grounds of Smuts House where the clues teach the children about their local environment and recycling, etc.


  • One bag of separated litter (Paper, plastic or tins)
  • Your sense of humour
  • A funky hat/sunglasses made from recycled material
  • A Water bottle and small backpack
  • Comfortable shoes/clothes.


  • From the Botha Avenue (M18) off-ramp off the N1 in Centurion, travel south on Botha Ave (M18)
  • Take the 3rd left into Nellmapius Drive after 2 km
  • Take the 1st right in Jan Smuts Avenue after 200 m
  • The Irene Middle School is located on your left after 130 m

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