WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS

Nature Seychelles recently rolled out a fresh and enthralling program known as YES, an acronym for Young Environmentalists for Seychelles, to model young Seychellois into champions of conservation and environmental management.

[ROCHE CAIMAN AUGUST 26/08/2008] Nature Seychelles recently initiated another fresh and enthralling program known as YES, an acronym for Young Environmentalists for Seychelles, which seeks to model young Seychellois into champions of conservation and environmental management.
Some 13 Secondary School students from the schools in the main island of Mahe, who have shown exemplary leadership qualities and passion for the environment within the Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles (WCS), were selected to participate in this new venture.
“These young people are our future environmental champions and we are fine-tuning for the challenges to come. The YES Initiative is meant to pass on the mantle of environmental leadership to Seychellois youth. YES is about getting young people actively engaged, revitalized and immersed in responsibility, leadership, initiative, and creativity on all matters pertaining to the environment.” Nature Seychelles’ CEO Nirmal Shah, asserts.
The YES Initiative was borne out of Shah’s intrinsic attachment to the youth. It is instructive to note that Shah himself started very early in his boyhood as a naturalist and conservationist owing to the prodding of his father, Kantilal Shah, who is an icon of Seychellois conservation.
YES Initiative is a jointly supported undertaking bringing together Nature Seychelles, Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles and the Ministry of Education. The pioneering class of environmental champions came from English River, Point Larue, Mont Fleuri, Beau Vallon, Belonie, Anse Royale and Plaisance Secondary schools. The workshop keynote address and official opening was presided by a senior Ministry of Education official, Brenda Andimignon who is also the Vice chairperson of the Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles. 
Lyndy Bastienne and Terence Vel who double up as Nature Seychelles’ Education and Advocacy Coordinator and Site Support and Social Marketing Coordinator respectively developed the YES curricula materials and implemented the workshop.
“The YES Initiative is Nature Seychelles’ antidote to the new demands and strains of today’s young generation. The Initiative is aimed at illustrating and empowering our youth with responsible leadership at ages where such qualities are feigned upon. . By launching YES we intend to get our youth in the right structures to become avid conservation champions. This way we are solidifying responsible citizens in our slogan ‘Conservation For people, for wildlife, For Seychelles.” Lyndy explains.
The first in-take of the YES Initiative champions included, award winning nature photographer and ReCOMAP art contest winner, Bertrand Gappy of Plaisance Secondary School and high achiever Adriana Julius of Beau Vallon Secondary School. They were joined by other fervent wildlife club members Rodney Esparon, Nelson Crispin, Sophie Larue, Lella Kilindo, Julie Lespoir, Shana Hoareau, Manuella Vallentin, Naomie Agricole, Eilish Charlette, Tina Songoire and Natalie Bristol
“This workshop has been very interesting. When I came, I didn’t know the other kids and I also had very little idea about leadership. It has made me understand that as young people we need to start taking responsibility early. Apart from learning I have also made new friends and I was able to get adults to listen to my ideas about the environment.” The ebullient Gappy says.
The newly initiated conservation champions were given ground breaking lessons on field trip preparation, camping techniques, survival skills, risk assessment, environmental education and conservation overview, managing wildlife club activities and overall presentation skills. They were also given tips on group dynamics, inter-personal communications and human capital reviews. At the end of the course certificates were awarded to all the participants.
“An innovative feature we want to develop is to get the young people excited about championing their ideas for environment projects with each other and with adults.” says Nirmal Shah who wants youngsters to initiate environmental activities of their own.
“As young champions of the environment, the YES Training is rather new for us youth. It actually provides us with what is needed to give back to our clubs, the schools and the community what they have given to us and I am grateful to have been selected to attend. I am so proud because through YES I now know the basics of environmental leadership and the course has also helped me to become more confident to help my leader and lead my colleagues forward.”  An elated Sophie Larue of Anse Royale Secondary School asserts.
According to Lyndy and Terence, the success of the pioneering YES Initiative class of 2008 has made a strong case for YES to become an annual event. This year’s training has been fully funded by the President’s Office and a similar conference with the inner islands active members is currently being planned.
“The high excitement and energy from the YES Initiative class has parents, teachers and young people putting immense pressure on us here at Nature Seychelles to continue it and even to widen the program content. We are now looking for sponsors to assist in supporting the 2009 group.” Terence says.
As the young Seychellois ‘conservation champions’ received their well embossed certificates, Freddy Mercury’s evergreen hit song “We are the Champions” chimed through. [ENDS]

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