On vacation with the grass lion

Environmental holiday project aims to bring nature closer to children

Children at the Grasl wen project DBU
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They live in the middle of the forest. During the day they climb into the tops of the trees and trace animals, in the evening they sit around the campfire and celebrate forest festivals. Sounds like adventure? And that's about it: together with the German Youth Hostel Association (DBH), the German Federal Foundation for the Environment (DBU) has developed special programs for school trips, children's and family vacations, all of which revolve around nature.

In five selected youth hostels nationwide, since this summer children have been getting to know their environment in a hands-on and playful way. The namesake of the programs is the Graslöwe, mascot of the initiative Graslöwen TV, a media project of the DBU and the children's channel KI.KA of ARD and ZDF. Goal of the grass lions programs: high-quality, experience-oriented environmental education, which makes eight to twelve year old fun.

At Brilon Youth Hostel, for example, the motto is "Get to the trees, get set, go!" For one week, qualified environmental educators go out into the forest with the children every day, as the small environmental experts take a closer look at the changing aspects. Finally, they will receive an environmental research package to help them explore nature at home. So far, the programs are offered in addition to Brilon in Mönchengladbach (both North Rhine-Westphalia), Mirow (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), Lingen and Mardorf (both Lower Saxony).

The grass lion plays a major role in motivation and care: "The children are in e-mail contact with the grass lions, to whom they report on their experiences, " says Judith Perez from the grassroots team of the DBU. "In order to train the media literacy, they receive small tasks over the Internet, the solution of which is rewarded with the permission to found their own grass lion club." In the clubs, which are supervised by the DBU, the children are to end the environmental holiday to develop their own ideas about the environment.

"The cooperation of the DBU with the German Youth Hostel Association relieves teachers in environmental education and supplements the lessons in a lively way, " says DBU Secretary General. Fritz Brickwedde. "The special feature of the project is certainly the sustainable learning that is guaranteed by the grass lion clubs." With their cooperation DBU and DJH pursued the same goals, so Bernd Lampe, speaker for environment and sustainable development at the DJH: "We want children's environmental commitment "Bringing personal initiative and media literacy close to topics on which our common future depends." Display

(DBU, 16.08.2004 - NPO)