Environmental degradation is one of the major threats faced by the present generation. Natural resources have been passed on from generations and it is our duty to protect, preserve and transfer it to our future generations. Public awareness is a major tool in environmental protection and media has to play a major role in spreading awareness among the general public. Aware of the fact that future of the world is highly dependent on its children, prompted Mathrubhumi to embark in this novel initiative called SEED (Student Empowerment for Environmental Development) to create awareness among the younger generation to preserve and protect our mother nature. SEED is perhaps the largest green initiative in India at the school level by any newspaper organization for protecting and preserving Mother Nature through school children. SEED, which was launched on 5th June, 2009, has successfully completed nine years and has entering in to the tenth year. Schools carry out simple but effective steps in environment protection like Planting & Protection of saplings, Agricultural Activities, Bio-diversity conservation, Energy Conservation, Conservation of Water bodies, Cleanliness & protection of public health, Reduce, Reuse and Recyle of Plastic waste and intervention in local area environmental issues through SEED Police. Volunteers of Mathrubhumi act as mentors and trainers. Around 350 volunteers of Mathrubhumi periodically visit schools. Every year, Best performing schools are given Haritha Vidyalayam Awards and Cash prizes. Total of 574 prizes including Awards for Best Teacher Co-ordinators, Gems of SEED, Sreshta Haritha Vidyalayam Awards, Vishista Haritha Vidyalayam Award, Special Jury Awards and Haritha Mukalam awards.
Tremendous behavioral changes in the student community
6,997 active schools spread across all the 14 districts in Kerala
Target group – 3.63 million students.
7,51,255 saplings are being protected out of 14,94,847 planted in the last 9 years.
SEED students have harvested 2,44,991 kgs of Paddy, 8,35,396.5 kgs of Vegetables and 4,33,918 kgs of Fruits in the last 9 years.
Students have collected 3,66,787 kgs of Plastic waste properly segregated and sent it for recycling.
SEED schools have conducted 39,734 campaigns, 25,077 Rallies, 44,932 Poster exhibitions, 40,687 seminars and 6678 Study tours as part of the SEED project throughout Kerala in the last 9 years.
SEED schools have conserved 58.96 lakh litres of water in the last nine years of the SEED project and remediated several water bodies saving innumerable quantities of water.
· SEED has also launched subsidiary initiatives like:
ü Love Plastic – a novel project in recycling plastic waste through school children launched by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on 19th February, 2011.
ü Ente Thengu – a unique project to mould, motivate & create passion among the youth about coconut farming in association with Coconut Development Board.
ü Little Frame Short film contest – in association with Builders Association of India was held during November, 2012 to January, 2013, wherein more than 3,000 students participated in the short film contest focussing on the theme – Responsible Living and Environment protection.
ü Seasonwatch – a children’s science movement in creating empirical records on the impact of climate change in leafing, flowering and fruiting pattern in selected 25 species of trees in association with the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore and Wipro Applying Thought in Schools.
ü SEED Reporter – More than 1,500 students were trained on the nuances of journalism (both print and visual). Student SEED Reporters periodically send reports on local area environmental issues, which is published in our daily and aired through our television channel.
ü Ente Naadu; Ente Thengu Competition 2014 – A literary competition conducted in association with Coconut Development Board to create awareness about the importance of Coconut tree in the socio-cultural spheres of Kerala. The competition was under two categories viz; A, Poetry writing and B, Short story / Experience writing. More than 4000 students from Upper Primary to the Higher Secondary Classes participated in the competition and it was a great success in creating awareness about the Kalpa Vriksha.
ü Free the Tree Campaign 2014; A campaign to save roadside trees from ad boards - Nearly 2000 students from 159 active SEED schools from the 14 districts of the state of Kerala took a one hour walk on the 9th & 10th February 2014 along the main roads of their respective local areas. They took count of the number of advertisement boards, hoardings and banners kept on trees, whether nailed or tied or in any other form. They consolidated the data and submitted it to the local authorities which forced them to take action against this menace.
ü CRADLE FOR TURTLE Campaign 2015– The sea turtles are facing extinction due to the challenges created by humans in sea and shores. SEED brought together all the likeminded people in the sea shores of Kerala to protect the sea turtles by creating a friendly environment for them in the various hatching beaches in Kerala. The students with the help of local people collected turtle eggs and kept them safe from various threats and the hatched turtles were returned to the sea. As part of the initiatives SEED has collected 2981 turtles eggs and 1357 eggs which already hatched were returned to the sea and the rest are kept safe in the SEED Turtle hatcheries waiting to be hatched.
· During May, 2013, SEED organised a Student Parliament for Protection & Conservation of Coconut Tree and the findings of the Student Parliament was presented to the Hon'ble Speaker, Legislative Assembly Kerala and the Hon'ble Chief Minister & Agriculture Minister of Kerala. It is heartening to note that some of the suggestions put forward by the kids are translating into action as the Government of Kerala has now announced tapping of Neera from Coconut Tree and also to constitute a Neera Board for promoting Neera tapping, which will go a long way in value adding for Coconut products as well as provide remunerative prices to the farming community.
· In the year 2014-15, SEED activities commenced with the students across Kerala taking oath to promote the theme of ‘Family farming’. Here again, it is heartening to note that the lilliputan steps of the Children in taking oath and campaigning is yielding good results, with lots of clubs, housing societies all joining us in the process. Truly, Child is the father of Man.
· Last year (2015-16) the main focus of SEED activity was the protection of soil in accordance with the international year of Soils 2015.
· In the IUCN World Park Congress 2014 conducted at Sydney, SEED was recognized as a best environmental project model for inspiring the young generation towards environment protection.
· United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has shown keen interest in partnering with SEED and discussions are in progress.
· The lilliputan steps of the children enabled SEED to win international accolades viz.,
o Best Corporate Citizen Award 2016 by NIPM (Kerala Chapter)
o Go Green Award – WAN-IFRA World Young Reader Prize 2014
o Corporate Social Crusader of the Year – Gold 2014 by International Advertising Association (IAA).
o World Young Reader Prize (2011 & 2013) instituted by World Association of Newspapers – WAN-IFRA, Vienna.
o Olive Crown Awards instituted by the International Advertising Association (IAA).
o Vanamitra Award of the Government of Kerala
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