INT’L YOUTH DAY: Salesian Missions highlights programs that educate youth about the environment
Theme of International Youth Day 2023 is ‘Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World’.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Aug. 12, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in recognizing International Youth Day. Celebrated each year on Aug. 12, International Youth Day was established by the United Nations to raise awareness of issues affecting young people around the world.
The theme of International Youth Day 2023 is “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World” and focuses on educating youth to develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society. The U.N. has noted half of the people on the planet are age 30 or younger, and this is expected to reach 57% by the end of 2030. Educating youth on green skills is critical for a better environment.
The U.N. said, “These (green skills) include technical knowledge and skills that enable the effective use of green technologies and processes in occupational settings, as well as transversal skills that draw on a range of knowledge, values and attitudes to facilitate environmentally sustainable decisions in work and in life. Due to their interdisciplinary nature, the essence of green skills is sometimes expressed, partly if not wholly, through other associated terms such as “skills for the future” and “skills for green jobs”. While green skills are relevant for people of all ages, they have heightened importance for younger people, who can contribute to the green transition for a longer period of time.”
Working in more than 130 countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries provide a range of educational programs, including those that focus on the environment, that aim to help youth gain an education for future employment. Salesian missionaries offer more than 5,500 primary and secondary schools and more than 1,000 vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools around the globe.
“Salesian missionaries around the globe have launched initiatives to help protect the environment,” said Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “This work was driven by Pope Francis’ 2020 Laudato Si’, which underlined the importance of education and training that will help youth foster environmental responsibility. From clean-up days to tree planting to using solar power for buildings, Salesians and the youth they serve are working to ensure the planet is a better, cleaner place.”
In honor and celebration of International Youth Day 2023, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian initiatives and programs that a cleaner environment.
Don Bosco Green Alliance is an international collective of youth from Salesian institutions and organizations that contribute to global environmental action, thought and policy. It was launched in April 2018 in India. In just the span of five years, Don Bosco Green Alliance has gained 593 registered members from 86 countries. Membership is open to all Salesian institutions and organizations worldwide.
Don Bosco Green Alliance has set 2023 as the “Year of Eco-Action” and calls on institutions to step up their efforts toward green campus practices, curricula development, community engagement and student engagement. The alliance has set the four priority areas of green campuses, eco-spirituality, youth campaigns and eco-education.
The push for a green campus is a starting point to create an educational space that emphasizes the importance of environmental sustainability and highlights the interconnection between nature and humans. A green campus is also a place where environmentally responsible practices and education are in harmony, and sustainability is promoted.
Salesian missionaries in the Dominican Republic have launched the Salesian Environmental Training Center, known as EcoBosco, which is a space built to promote the environmental care and defense of natural resources. EcoBosco is located in Arroyones de Básima in the province of Villa Altagracia and is 45 minutes from the city of Santo Domingo.
EcoBosco was built with the support of the Swiss Salesian organization Jugendhilfe Weltweit through the Salesian Don Bosco Foundation. It also received funding from the Office for the Promotion of Nonprofit Associations granted by the Department of Community Participation of the Ministry of Education.
The goal is to train future leaders in the management and care of natural resources, as well as promote and develop sustainable actions for care, reforestation, and agriculture in the area. The center’s training programs will encourage youth to be more environmentally focused. EcoBosco has a multi-purpose hall with a capacity for 250 people, camping areas, two houses, a kitchen and dining hall, paths for access to a forest, a lagoon, a parking lot and other common areas.
Father Antonio “Beng-Beng” Molavin, rector of the Salesian St. Ildefonso Parish in Makati, Philippines, launched initiatives in 2021 to help the parish population focus on removing plastics from the environment by working with Plastic Bank.
Parish members are involved in projects to clean up their local community and to recycle plastics found, as well as items used in their homes. Youth in the Salesian oratory are also reusing plastic items rather than throwing them into the trash.
St. Ildefonso Parish was chosen by the Ecological Ministry of the Archdiocese of Manila to be the first parish in the Philippines to collaborate with Plastic Bank. Fr. Molavin explained, “If we take the problem of plastic pollution seriously and try to offer an effective solution, we would have solved a great ecological problem.”
Don Bosco Elementary School in Kigali, Rwanda, hosted the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) to raise awareness about the benefits of non-motorized transportation. The GGGI team conducted a workshop to encourage students to adopt any mode of transportation that does not require the use of a motor vehicle.
During the workshop, GGGI members explained the environmental impact of motorized transportation and encouraged students to consider using bicycles. They also provided tips on how to stay safe when biking or walking on the road. Students were eager to learn more about how to make a difference in their community.
Other Salesian students in Kigali have had a focus on their environmental impact and have been engaging in activities to help the planet. In April, the Don Bosco Gatenga Green Club participated in clean-up work to protect the environment. Students collected plastic and other non-biodegradable waste that degrade natural resources, including the water and soil. Most of this waste is thrown into the water channel by people upstream, and it ends up spreading downstream where it contributes to environmental damage. The students used their spare time to volunteer for this effort.
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