Student activists at a Qatar Foundation school are taking a stand against plastic bags – and calling for people across the country to support their efforts to protect the environment.
A group of 45 students at Qatar Academy Doha’s (QAD) Primary School have added their voice to worldwide calls for action to address the critical environmental issues facing the planet, launching an initiative that aims to raise awareness about the impact of single-use plastic bags, and ultimately lead to them being banned in Qatar.
The Activists in Action campaign, which was launched this week, saw 130 students representing the student leadership of QAD, which is part of Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education, cover the school’s walls and floors using plastic bags and plastic bottles collected by students, parents, and teachers, to illustrate the amount of plastic waste that society creates.
“This isn’t fair to our planet.” said Maha Al Thani, a Grade 5 student who is involved in the initiative. “We're doing this to spread awareness about the impact that continuing to treat our earth like this is going to have on us, and the animals and the wildlife of this earth.
“It is important to have an initiative like this; one that addresses an issue that is going to impact on us and our future. It came to us last year when a group of us were thinking of ideas, and we just thought ‘let's try to help ban plastic’. Now we are trying to encourage other people to think the same by showing them pictures of how we're treating the earth, how it was before, and how this change is impacting on plants, animals, and us.”
Campaigner Khalid Abdelbaset Al Shaibei, a Grade 5 QAD student, said: “Qatar is one of the leaders of sustainability in the Middle East, and I believe that people within Qatar Foundation will be passionate about this initiative.
“We are supported by our school, by Pre-University Education, and by QF, and by starting our campaign here we feel we can have a huge impact. I’m involved in this because it affects my future, and I must help to find a solution. And we want to send a message to students that how they relate to the environment today will be reflected in their future.
“I feel very lucky to take part in the Activists in Action initiative. After 10 weeks of planning our campaign, we are keen to keep going and we're not going to stop – this is about banning plastic bags, and once we have done this, we're going to have new initiatives.”
The students also hope to collect 10,000 names on a petition to be presented to Qatar’s leadership, calling for the country to join the global effort to reduce single-use plastic waste.
"I think that this is going to change our future and we're going to have a better world as a result,” said Grade 5 student Tayiba Muzaferija. "Other people will follow what Qatar did and we can show them that we can do this – we can help change the world.
“If we implement a ban on single-use plastic bags before the 2022 World Cup, it would help a lot, because during the tournament the population of the country will increase massively and that means we will have more plastic.
“We gathered information and research on the impact of plastic bags, but there is no point in doing this unless you then take action and educate other people.” Muzaferija added.
Jess Hoffman, PE Teacher and After School Activities Coordinator at QAD, explained how the students, with the support of the leadership and teachers at Qatar Academy Doha, built on their original idea for helping to protect the environment. “We pitched an idea to a group of Grade 4 students: what if we ban plastic bags?” she said. “And their response was ‘let's do it’.
“Together, we started talking about what this campaign would look like, and what exactly we can do and how we can do it, and the students have all been phenomenal. The idea behind this campaign is obviously to create change, but it also teaches them leadership skills such as organization, outreach, communication, and being able to present their ideas.”
Elizabeth Kennedy, Wellbeing Facilitator at QAD, added: “These students are getting exposure to all sorts of different things that support what we do here at QAD in terms of education and development. Our students are developing the skills, knowledge and the confidence to be responsible global citizens. We aim to nurture our students’ academic and personal growth through authentic learning opportunities.
“We want students to be empowered, we want them to feel like they can make a difference. And as we can see from this passionate group of students working on this initiative, they can, and will, make a massive difference.
“We've taken sustainability and woven it into our curriculum, and we're activating kids at different ages and stages to think about sustainability. If this is what students are doing in Grade 5, just imagine what they're going to be doing by the time they get to Grade 12 and beyond, how knowledgeable they're going to be, and the role they are going to be playing in actively engaging their community to be more sustainable on the global stage.”
Source: Press release
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