A report on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the States paints a picture of a disengaged youth, disinterested in the heritage and biodiversity of their country (Gatlinburg, August 2013, the economist). Managers of that Park are finding means through research to reach out to youngsters in a more techno-savvy manner.
So says Muneer Moses, People and Conservation Officer for the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP), ‘if conservation is done with both present and future generations in mind, young people must be at the centre of planning. We invest in edutainment today and hope to shape responsible adults who make choices that benefit the environment. We dream of adults who want to explore and enjoy green spaces and biodiversity havens like National Parks with their families and children.’
This is a medium to long-term goal of reaching out to youngsters through the Kids in Parks Programme. ‘We try and let the Kids explore the Park and only assist with various activities, displays and information resources beforehand’ adds Moses.
The Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) will host 500 learners from rural and peri-urban areas for the Kids in Parks Programme from the 25th February. The Programme is funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs and is implemented by South African National Parks (SANParks). Sponsored by Pick n Pay, the annual programme provides learners with an opportunity to explore National Parks.
Since its inception nearly a decade ago (2005/2006), the Programme hosts approximately 5000 learners every year in 15 National Parks, 300 educators from a total of 150 primary schools.
The programme will not only benefit kids alone, but also their educators, community guides, honorary rangers, volunteers and community leaders. ‘Educators are capacitated by evaluating and developing and/or providing information resources, materials, equipment and facilities for environmental interpretation and education for both pre and post-camp in-class activities’ says Moses.
Wilderness is a Gateway to the Garden Route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and is attractive to visitors because of its multiple hiking and nature walks, water-based activities such as canoeing and its Blue Flag Wilderness beach, forest excursions and birding.
Many feathered friends may be spotted at the Rondevlei Bird Hide. More can be found in Langvlei (the Malachite Kingfisher bird hide and along the Touw River (the Gallinule hide).
‘Adventure is in our nature’