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Education student teaches green



By Heidi Wicks

Education student Justin Black has decided to teach more than math or English lit to his future students.

Starting this fall, Mr. Black will cycle across Newfoundland and Labrador in an effort to raise money for the Otesha Project (www.otesha.ca). The project’s education programs and bicycle tours use theatre, multimedia, and storytelling to engage a wide range of audiences, most notably school children.

Performances focus on re-evaluating our daily choices to reflect the kind of future we'd like to see - rethinking what we really need, conserving resources, and voting with our dollars. The organization aims to demonstrate the positive effects everyday choices can have.

“I like to call it green education, as it teaches environmental friendliness,” explained Mr. Black. “Through people’s consumer and life decisions, both kids and parents can help the environment. Some simple things you can do is use a reusable coffee mug, bring cloth bags to the supermarket, think about how many times you bring your car out in one day, and try to cluster your errands, do them all in one trip.”

Otesha runs eight different green education bike tours across the country, and Mr. Black is doing the Across the Rock tour, from Halifax through Cape Breton, to St. John’s.

“We’ll be doing a play in schools,” he said, “and it basically tracks two students as they wake up and the general decisions they make in a day. The play focuses on five different topics – water, clothing, media, transportation, and coffee/fair trade.”

He clarified that the organization promotes biking as transportation, however, even carpooling or walking is an immense help (biking isn’t always an option in Newfoundland’s climate).

He has a modest goal for his tour.

“We’ll be reaching about 2,000 school children, and I’m trying to raise that amount of money. One dollar equals one student,” he said, adding that they will also be doing workshops and offering information sessions with community organizations.

They also promote the use of local, fresh, in-season and organic foods. As part of his fundraising efforts (both monetary and on the awareness front), Mr. Black has been baking and selling all-natural banana bread.

Other fundraising endeavours include a free tune up for your bike (with a donation), and an event at the Rob Roy Pub in St. John’s on Aug. 9.

“I use all local free-range eggs in the bread, organic bananas – although I also use donated bananas – and I use fair trade chocolate and sugar. And I try to use local flour and organic butter,” he said, joking that he now gets requests for the banana bread and carries it with him.

Mr. Black said he would like to continue green education when he finishes his B.Ed. in Intermediate/Secondary.

“I would like to try to get the school culture, building and community as environmentally friendly as possible, whether that be through organized carpooling or organized safe biking to schools. We could map out where kids live and organize parents or get a committee on board to sort of chaperone kids to school. Litterless lunches will help too – like not have disposable cutlery or containers, things like that.”

For more information or to donate online, visit www.givemeaning.com/thon/justinblack.
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