THABAZIMBI, July 31 – The South African National Parks’ (SANParks) annual “Kids in parks” programme in the Marakele National Park near Thabazimbi in Limpopo is well under way, SANParks said on Sunday.
The programme started on at the Thutong Environmental Education Centre on July 26, SANParks said in a statement.
The programme, which runs for three days per group, aims to expose children from nearby previously disadvantaged schools to the importance of national parks and teach them about the parks as their natural and cultural heritage.
“Most, if not all of the learners, usually welcome the opportunity to be exposed to wildlife in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. These programmes usually cover map work, water conservation, global warming, among others, and in the end the children are encouraged to be ambassadors of these issues in their schools and communities,” SANParks said.
Over 500 pupils from areas such as Thabazimbi, Vaalwater, and Dwaalboom would get the opportunity to participate in this year’s programme, park manager Mphadeni Nthangeni said in the statement.
“Since this programme was introduced to the park we see it adding such value to our learners and therefore feel honoured that, although it’s a hectic season, we are able to impart valuable knowledge to the young people in our communities,” he said.
A teacher’s workshop was held prior to the kids programme to help them with what to expect from they children once they returned to their classrooms. “We take this seriously and would not want it to fall by the way side, and therefore equip the teachers so that after the stay at the Thutong Centre, then they continue re-enforcing the messages in the classroom,” he said.
In the past, the highlight of the three-day stay in the park had always been the interpretative drives and bush walks in the park, as well as the prize giving ceremony on the morning of departure.
“The prize giving makes them to be very attentive and participate in the programme and make it worthwhile for the facilitators,” Nthangeni said.
This year’s season started on July 26 and will run to September 1 with at least one group each week, SANParks said.