Sunday, December 25, 2011

Prize-Giving and Closing Ceremony TrEES' School Programme 2011 ~ Young Voices for Conservation

Kuala Lumpur, 15 November 2011 : Young Voices for Conservation offers young students a unique opportunity to delve into themselves and discover their potential. The programme harnesses the spirit and energy of the youth to create positive change in themselves and the community around them.
This school programme is organized by Treat Every Environment Special Sdn Bhd (TrEES), a grassroots environmental organization.  With strong financial support from AFFINBANK, the programme involved 15 schools and aims to develop future leaders who are passionate about the environment.
"The greatest thing we can do for our young people is to prepare them for life, by providing them with tools and skills they will need to succeed. Young Voices for Conservation does just that" said Christa Hashim, director of Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES).  "The programme allows the youth to explore their creativity and unlock their hidden potential, and to achieve results they never knew possible.  From just talking to these students here today, and witnessing the work that they have done, we can see the extraordinary results these young people have achieved."
"When we made the decision to act as the main funder for the TrEES school programme, it wasn't just to fulfill part of our corporate social responsibilities," said Mr. Shariffuddin Mohamad - Executive Director, Operations, AFFINBANK.  He continued: "We're all on the same page here. Our main vision alongside TrEES is to assist in their mission of instilling a green culture, one school at a time. Ultimately, the education system plays a key role in shaping the beliefs and attitudes of our youths, so initiating a green mindset and exposing them to environmental issues at a young age is when we’re going to make a strong and lasting impact. "
The school programme run in partnership with the Forestry Department of Selangor and the Selangor Water Management Agency has the approval of the Ministry of Education.
"Another very important gift we can leave for our children is a healthy environment," continued Christa.  "Under Young Voices for Conservation, students came to realize that they can be active environmentalists no matter what career they pursue, or what field interests them.  The environment affects all things, and is in turn, affected by all things.  It was very heartwarming to see the care and passion for the environment expressed by the project teams throughout this programme."
Under the six month programme, participating students acted as mentors to their classmates, with the ultimate goal of running an outreach campaign at their school, to raise awareness on the individual’s role in conserving the environment.
And the students did more than just raise awareness, they taught their classmates how to take action to protect the environment.  Through their passion, the student teams motivated themselves and their classmates to "take shorter showers to save water" to "try and eat less meat" to "keep the wrapper in your pockets until you found a dustbin".
To prepare them for the outreach campaigns, student project teams participated in training workshops to build their capacity and skills to under take the outreach campaign, as well as fieldtrips to the forest, to strengthen their connection with the natural environment.
Said one student from SMK Taman SEA: "We gained communication skills that helped us with our public speaking and were able to overcome our stage fright."   A student from SMK USJ8 commented that:  "Before attending the programme, we knew that forests were important, but we had no idea that the forests supply our clean water."
The programme also introduced the student teams to new skills and information, some tools that they never utilized before.  One new aspect under our programme this year was financial management and budgeting.  We would like to thank AFFINBANK for collaborating with TrEES in this programme. In addition to providing funding for the programme, AFFINBANK collaborated with TrEES to financial training and mentorship to the student project teams. 
"AFFINBANK is proud to invest in these children", said Mr Shariffuddin.  "We see the changes that are taking place. We're a financial institution, so it's only befitting that we educate these kids on the importance of financial planning and developing and managing a budget as part of this project. We say you can never be too young to be financially smart. Some of them start out at the beginning not knowing what the word 'budget' means, and finally emerge at the end of this project with a whole new set of acquired skills."
One of the student participants said: "We learned how to develop a budget.  None of us had ever made a budget before and it was a great experience."  A student from SMK Wangsa Melawati also stated: "We had to do our budget, this was the most exciting part of the programme."
While most of the students had never prepared a proposal, produced a budget or run an entire campaign on their own before, with the training and advice they received under this programme, they progressed to a level that truly impressed the judges.
In keeping with TrEES approach to utilize forms of communication that youth today are used to, TrEES also proud to announce that next year's programme will be using the internet as a major source of communication.  Said Christa, "Young people are so well versed with socializing on the net, we want to tap that resource and help the students reach beyond this as well.  Next year, through the support received from AFFINBANK, TrEES will be introducing the IT aspect into the programme. The new TrEES website, will be used next year to make the programme more on-line, and allowing us to reach out to a greater number of schools".
The closing ceremony held on 15 November 2011, marked the conclusion of Young Voices for Conservation.  It was a festive event, and included exhibition booths set up by the project teams to display their work, as well as the awarding of prizes to the winning schools.
SMK Section 18, Shah Alam marked the start of the ceremony with an exciting fan-fare of home-made drums and percussions.  There was also a delightful drama performed by students from SK Perdana Jaya SS19, Subang Jaya.
There was much anticipation as the prize giving ceremony got underway. The creativity, commitment and high quality of work put in by the project teams made it a very close competition with narrow margins separating the top schools. Prizes were presented by Mr Shariffuddin Mohamad – Executive Director, Operations, AFFINBANK., who was accompanied by Puan Christa Hashim of TrEES and Encik Awang Shaffie from the Forestry Department of Selangor.
While the top performing schools won cash prizes totaling RM18,500 contributed by AFFINBANK,  the knowledge and skills gained under the programme made all the participants in TrEES school programme winners. 
About TrEES
Treat Every Environment Special Sdn Bhd (TrEES) is a grassroots organisation, founded in February 1995. The organisation seeks to re-connect the urban community with the environment that they are a part of, and depend on for their well-being. With over fifteen years of experience working on environmental issues, TrEES believes in engaging diverse sectors of Malaysian society, at both the local and national level, to work together in conserving the environment. We believe in empowering Malaysians through education and hands-on activities that allow them to be active in conserving the environment. For more information about TrEES

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