ETHOS celebrates youth and community groups stepping up for climate change

The McMillan Arts Centre presents a unique community collaboration of youth and environmental community groups at ETHOS, live discovery lab opening Thursday August 1st.

“We’re really proud of our ETHOS educational initiative,” says Producer and Education Program Director Janet Richards. “The MAC is a community-based organization and this summer, we’re very excited to celebrate other amazing groups and projects which have the health of our community, our waterways and our world at heart. These are the people who are stepping up to do something for the betterment all of us.”

Jodi Waters and her Grade 5 students from Arrowview Elementary School in Qualicum Beach, continue their inspirational efforts to learn about, and do something about, community and climate change. Students, fueled by class discussions and projects covering a wide gamut of environmental subjects, are creating NETTED GARTBAGE. a 3-dimensional, and very personal, commentary on garbage and debris collected from Oceanside beaches.

Waters began stepping up her earth care curriculum over ten years ago as a teacher in School District 69.  Her “Garbage Busters” club was inspired after she and her students began learning about global environmental issues, in particular the Great Ocean Garbage Patch.

“Learning about this buildup of plastic waste left my students concerned about their own future and the task of cleaning such a disaster up.  Through discussion, we narrowed it down, beginning with our own ‘backyard’ – our playground. Every year, my school ran into the same problem; an over-abundance of litter strewn all over the playground and fields.   Who was responsible for this continual mess, and how could the students’ solve this problem?”

The students collected and analyzed the litter, separating playground waste from community waste.  Students presented their findings to the Mayor of Qualicum Beach who met with the class and donated the Garbage Picker Uppers (or GPUs) which students have been using ever since. Over the years, projects have expanded to decorating garbage cans which can be seen all over Qualicum Beach.

Working with the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society, Waters’ students study eelgrass and the importance of this rich habitat to our near shore beach areas. “We have, and will continue to spread the word to locals and tourists about conserving this unique ecosystem through the newspaper and creating posters that were situated all around Parksville and Qualicum,” says Waters. Students have also created a “Walk Of Thought” along a community path with over 225 footprints and messages from students about their commitment to protecting and cleaning up the environment.

This summer, Waters’ students and volunteer parents are creating NETTED GARTBAGE. Students collected items from local beaches and are displaying their finds along with statements about the harm they can do and share their thoughts through art and discussion with their display.

“From the beginning, my students have been driven to make a difference.  The Garbage Busters club is a great platform to do so.  Not only have they come up with many ideas to expand their leadership out into the community, they have drawn attention to local newspapers and officials. And now we are here with a display for MAC!”, says Waters.

ETHOS live discovery lab opens at the McMillan Arts Centre on Thursday August 1st and runs until the end of the month. The display and associated workshops are FREE and open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Families and visitors will be treated to fun interactive activities including aquariums, microscope lab, touch tank and crafts presented by The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region and Research Institute, The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, VIU Deep Bay Marine Station and Waters’ Netted GArtbage Display.

The Coastal Stewards Youth Workshop explores the connection between humans and aquatic ecosystems and is presented by the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute. These 1.5 hour workshops are free and run Wed Aug 7, August 14 and August 21 from 1-2;30 pm at the MAC. This workshop is geared for students aged 8-12 but students younger can attend with a responsible adult.

The free two-hour Beach Walk and Seining Workhops are perfect for residents and visitors to Oceanside. Starting a the MAC, students will take a short walk down to Parksville Beach for a fascinating bioinventory connecting to the remarkable unique species of ocean wildlife. Seining instructors from the Mid Island Habitat Enhancement Society will help students identify everything from Pipefish, Staghorn, Buffalo Sculpin and salmon smolts. Beach Walk instructors from the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institue will explore the beautiful natural habitat of our oceanside beaches. This workshops is tide dependant and runs Tues Aug 6 from 1-3pm, Tues Aug 13 from 10am-noon and Tues Aug 20 from 1-3pm. All ages and families are welcome!

Pre-registration for the free workshops is requested online at https://mcmillanartscentre. com/, by phone to 250-248-8185 or in person at the MAC, 133 McMillan Street, Parksville.

Photos from top:  Some of the trash collected on local beaches for the Netted Gartbage display at ETHOS, Grade 5 Arrowsmith Elementary teacher Jodi Waters and students learning about the Ocean Garbage Patch,  Walk of Thought in Qualicum Beach Spring 2019 .