World Environment Day: action through sport

Change begins small. One word, one idea, one conversation leads to change that alters the course of mankind. Right now, we need urgent change more than ever to save our home, planet Earth. 

On June 5, change began with a group of young, brilliant, and curious minds exploring ways to save the planet. June 5th was World Environment day, created by the United Nations to encourage awareness and action for environmental protection. Throughout the week, Jadir Taekwondo Association (AJTKD) took part in educating and inspiring their students and families to make a change. Students gathered together to watch and practice Taekwondo demonstrations and participated in two educational activities about the environment joined by two experts. 

Paula Castro Brandão, an environmental scientist and AJTKD volunteer from Wageningen, Netherlands, connected with students in Brazil to deliver a live presentation about an important topic in Brazil and around the world; basic sanitation. All around the world, people are affected by unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation. In 2020, 2 billion people lacked safely managed drinking water and 3.6 billion people lacked safely managed sanitation. In Brazil, many communities throughout the country still lack basic sanitation and do not have access to clean water. Hence, this topic was of great importance to AJTKD’s students in Brazil. Paula highlighted to students the crucial importance of access to clean drinking water and the consequences of unsafe water such as contracting diseases and a decrease in the quality of life. Furthermore, Paula focused her presentation on something the children could apply in their daily lives. She emphasized the use of water filters, particularly cheap, accessible, and efficient filters that children could use to ensure they consumed clean water. In this way, the message stuck with the students as they could apply the lessons they learned from the presentation to their daily lives and make a change starting within themselves and their families.

AJTKD’s activities align with the United Nations’ sustainable development goal 6: clean water and sanitation. This goal aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. At AJTKD, change starts small at the grassroots, as children learn about clean water and sanitation and aim to instill these lessons in their lives. 

Next, Nathália Miranda, an environmental engineer and AJTKD volunteer based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, delivered a presentation about endangered species. She showed the students that planet Earth was the home that we shared with many plants and animals. By explaining the planet’s natural balance, Nathália emphasized the importance of every animal in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. She delved into the topic of predatory fishing, a large environmental issue, in which fishing imbalances the aquatic environment. By breaking down each topic into simpler, digestible content for her younger audience, she was able to engage AJTKD’s students. Furthermore, she emphasized that humans could act responsibly by not disrupting the ecosystem’s balance. For instance, fishing was not inherently wrong if it was conducted with responsibility. As she delivered her presentation, AJTKD’s students were highly engaged, asking questions about dinosaurs, deforestation, pollution, bees, and much more. At the end of the presentation, she chatted with students and led a roundtable activity where students were to create an imaginary endangered species and find a solution to prevent their extinction. The young children gathered around, passionately talking about solutions to save endangered species.

These activities align with two more of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals; SDG 14 and SDG 15. SDG 14 aims to conserve the sustainable use of the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development. With the sustainability of our oceans under threat, it is crucial for the next generation of youth to learn about the environmental issues for life below water. Additionally, AJTKD’s activities align with SDG 15 which aims to protect, restore, and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, manage forests, combat desertification, as well as halt land degradation and biodiversity loss. Learning about key issues like this will equip the children to think of solutions and take action. 

So, change began at AJTKD with an educator, a student, a family, a community, and eventually an entire globe. At Jadir Taekwondo, youth are inspired to take action; change starts here.