Outdoor learning completes education for underprivileged children

Underprivileged children in India do not always have the opportunity to go to school. And if they do, there are not many additional activities which can be organized for them because of limited financial resources. In the vicinity of the operations of Marine, Protective, Metal, Powder, Specialty Coatings and Vehicle Refinishes in Bangalore there are 6 government schools where underprivileged children are educated. Besides attending classes, there are no possibilities to organize additional activities for the students. This lack in education motivated our colleagues in Bangalore to explore more opportunities for these schools.

"Encouraging children to be active while outdoors is important for their physical, cognitive, and social development", explained Prettysha Curtis from Marine Coatings. "By fostering more opportunities for outdoor learning, we can help the next generation grow and develop as they build an appreciation for nature at an early age." With this consideration in mind the four Strategic Market Units agreed to focus their support on providing outdoor learning opportunities for the children. The choice was quickly made for a visit to the Bannerghatta Biological Park, close to the city in the midst of the forests in the valley of the famous Champakadhama hills. The park offers unique opportunities for children to experience flora, fauna, water sources, wild animals, etc. and to observe the subject matters that have previously been dealt with in the classroom, using books.

To organize an outing for around 500 children from class 4 to 10th standard from 6 different schools obviously requires careful planning. Already in November 2014 our volunteers started the process to obtain approval from all school authorities, local government, organize transport, proper food, etc. An appropriate day in 2015, Valentine's Day, was chosen to pick the children up by bus. 25 volunteering colleagues coordinated the operation and distributed identification badges to all children and guided them to one of the eight designated buses. Before starting the journey, the children were served a healthy breakfast. Already this exciting start created a lot of fun among the children as well as for the volunteers involved. ‘The smiles on the faces of these children made our day a fabulous one. 14 February, being Valentine’s Day, there can never be more love shared than this’, said Mrs. Veda.

Upon arrival at the Bannerghatta wild life sanctuary, the children were divided in groups of 10 accompanied by our colleagues. They were thrilled to view the free range of wild animals in their natural habitat from a secured vehicle during a safari. The park is one of the pioneers in creating and maintaining the safari of the wild animals to see, study and enjoy the majestic predators and other animals. Presently there are 36 (20 male and 16 females) normal tigers and 6 (4 male and 2 female) white tigers are housed in the tiger safari. Presently there are 32 lions (17 male and 15 female) in the lion safari. Besides learning about the animals the children were introduced to the 5 water bodies in the areas, namely Deepankere, Chennamanakere, Gowdanakere and Seegadikunte, Gowdanakere. These water bodies are everlasting remains and serve as the source of water for the inmate animals during all seasons.

After the 3 hour safari tour, the children were guided to the 'picnic corner' of the park to have their lunch and then continued their journey towards the museum and nature and wildlife conservation educational movie. Here they learned about the variety of mammals, reptiles and birds of both exotic and Indian origin, comprising 1301 animals belonging to 78 species which are displayed in captivity. Most impressive and interesting were the Thamin deer, Hog deer, King Cobra, Crocodiles, Himalayan black bear, Panthers and various birds.

It was a full day of learning while enjoying nature and wildlife which has made a lasting impression on the children. As the future generation they have been made aware of the importance of conservation of flora and fauna, the biodiversity of nature in the region as well as the entire country. A sustainable addition was provided to their regular education at school as well as an outdoor experience which they will never forget.