“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
By Rowen Ravera
Increasingly society is placing greater value on education, and realizing that investing in education today is essential for future generations of capable citizens. However, while academic results are important, a holistic approach to education looks further towards growing a generation of conscious, confident and responsible future leaders.
Holistic education connects each student to the community, their environment and themselves, while focusing on values such as compassion and peace, to create greater meaning and purpose in life and education.
The Earthchild Project is a registered non-profit organisation offering holistic education to under-resourced primary schools in Cape Town townships. They work with over 2000 children, within the existing school curriculum, focusing on health and wellness, life skills and the environment.
For meaningful and sustainable change, they aim to connect their Earth children to themselves, others and their environment through yoga and meditation, to cultivate practical skills for life through gardening and worm farming, and to inspire a new generation of young leaders through hikes and holiday programmes.
Additionally, this year the organisation began working with a small group of high school students called their “Alumni”. Their Alumni have all been part of the project for many years, having joined in primary school. Now in high school, they are honing their leadership skills to inspire the next generation of Earthchildren!
The organisation was started 9 years ago by Janna Kretzmar. After traveling and working on an eco village in South America, Janna arrived back in Cape Town with her heart set on one thing – to find a way to transform our schools and education. She began volunteering at Chapel Street Primary School in Woodstock, setting up an organic vegetable garden and running guided meditations with the children.
Janna came into contact with many NGOs and volunteers who were doing great work in schools. However, she observed it was difficult for the schools to maintain the projects set-up once the NGOs had left and moved on to other projects. The teachers simply did not have the time or energy to sustain extra initiatives.
This is what inspired the Earthchild Project model – by placing a full time facilitator in a school, the organisation is able to introduce and maintain holistic education in a sustainable way. Today Earthchild Project employs five full time staff members, as well as over 20 volunteers in Khayelitsha and Lavender Hill – the NGO has created employment for locals too (our coordinators grew up in the communities they now work in).
The team have all personally experienced the benefits of yoga, meditation, the law of attraction, a healthy diet, regular exercise and time in nature (to name but a few). This is what inspired them to spread this knowledge and these tools to children living in Cape Town’s township communities.
Their work, however, depends on the support of the community. How can you help?
- Raise funds. Donate at Earthchildproject.org/donate (you can nurture an eco-warrior for just R350, which provides one child with weekly environmental education for a year). Alternatively, organise a fundraising yoga class, hike or other event in your community.
- Volunteer. They have many ways for volunteers to get involved, including joining hikes on Saturdays, assisting during school hours, or even lending a hand gardening and harvesting worms! Find out more about volunteering: Earthchildproject.org/volunteers
- Raise awareness. Tell your friends and family about the importance of holistic education. You can “Like” their Facebook page, Facebook.com/earthchildproject, or tell your local yoga studio about the organisation.