The 26th day of the month of January is internationally set aside as "World Environmental Education Day." 

The Verdant Scripts 

The idea behind this special occasion is to enlighten and educate the occupants of Earth on the best approach to handling nature and the environment specifically. 

In view of this, The Verdant Circus Africa Foundation, in collaboration with myEnvironment myWealth, organized an Essay and Poem Writing Competition for Primary and Post-Primary School Students on Friday, January 28, 2022, at Den Bec Group of Schools, Rumuokoro, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to make this year's World Environmental Education Day a memorable one.

The event, themed "Today's Writers-Today's Leaders," which is the first of its kind in the ‘The Verdant Scripts’ series, is a tribute to the late Professor Emeritus Tekena Nitonye Tamuno (TNT), known as the historian of Africa. It anchors essays that concern the past, present, and future of the green city. The event also enabled young writers to engage their minds with nature's own. It is safe to say that education is a state of mind, not the physical location of a person. We can rebuild our earth when young minds are involved.

Speaking on the success of the event and its societal influence, the convener of The Verdant Scripts, Wonne Afronelly, said, "This maiden edition of The Verdant Scripts, which was inspired by Prof. TNT, was very successful beyond our expectations."

“The students and participants of the essay and poem writing competition were ecstatic to be a part of such an inspiring endeavor as they learnt a lot about the environment and how to preserve mother nature in simple ways.

Furthermore, she said, "They were enlightened that the use of paper plates is eco-friendlier than using plastic plates." They were also encouraged and taken through a mental journey of the benefits and exposure of being involved in volunteering for relevant organizations.

Lamenting the obstacles faced in the course of the event, Ms. Wonne said, "Students from different schools were expected to come for the competition, but that wasn't possible. Fortunately, the bright students of Den Bec Group of Schools and Luther Welfare for Children at Risk Development Centre were fully ready to flaunt their essays.

Eleme participants

PortHarcourt participants

“Also, at the beginning of the event in Port Harcourt at about 10am, the participants representing the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) from Luther Welfare Centre Eleme were just setting out from their location. We advised them not to bother since the journey would take at least 2 hours. Three winners were selected from among the participants in Port Harcourt. 

“In order to fulfill all righteousness, we traveled down to a rural area at Eleme, Eteo Community with the judges to hold the same competition and select another best three from 'Luther Welfare for Children at Risk Development Centre', as the students of this citadel of great learning are young children who have a desire for education and enlightenment, but lack all the support they need.

She, however, appreciated and thanked the judges of the writing competition, who, according to her, “had to painstakingly oblige our request to travel a long distance on the same day just to achieve all targets, and we were glad we did because the two best emerged from the center. Hence, education is a state of mind, not necessarily a place, and an urban or rural setting is immaterial.”

Reiterating the future plans of the essay and poem writing competition, she noted that, "The future of The VERDANT SCRIPTs is somewhat fascinating. We would start with a statewide competition, then move on to a national and then a continent-wide competition. In addition, we will also be celebrating great Nigerians and Africans alive every January. The impact and legacy of the historian of Africa TNT, as well as our heroes past and present, must be felt across Africa in order to achieve one of The VERDANT CIRCUS AFRICA Foundation's core objectives, which is "to prepare and develop African youths to appreciate and imbibe the values of honesty, creativity, innovation, hard work, service, and appreciation of environmental sustainability."

Participants of the essay and poem writing competition were judged by their relative points, grammar, composure, and mechanism. The panel of judges that anchored the sessions were: Mr. Elbina Aniekan and Alika Jesse Chukwudi, while the overall best three winners of the competition were: Atura Ruth, Iloh Evangelista Nicholas, and James Esther, and cash prizes of 30 dollars for the first position, 20 dollars for the second position, and 10 dollars for the third position were awarded to them, respectively.

Other highlights of the event were the preparation for World Fish Migration Day in May and the International Coastal Cleanup in September 2022 by the initiator, WONNE Afronelly. As a follow-up session on alternatives to plastic packaging, such as paper cups, breakable ceramics, foil, plates, leaves, etc., program participants were served refreshments on leaves and paper plates. 

Paper plates and cups were given to participants to take home to show their families and encourage them to boycott plastic. All the participants were also awarded certificates of participation.

The program was supported by volunteers from MyEnvironment MyWealth, Prince Wonne, Adedimeji Olayinka, Den Bec School, AIT Port Harcourt, Honourz Concept Int'l and Atlantic Television Network.

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