The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are being realised by primary students in 2022 as they participate in Kreative Koalas. Twenty eight schools from across rural and urban NSW will investigate global sustainability issues and explore their own solutions within their communities in this innovative program delivered by Action4Agriculture.
The SDG are a suite of 17 actionable targets described by the United Nations as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. Kreative Koalas provides the opportunity for students to be part of a team that takes a deep dive into ideas and solutions and empowers them to act as future decision makers for the planet.
Using art to stimulate design, creativity, teamwork and project development the program gifts each school with a life-sized fibreglass koala on which to express their sustainability theme. The students are connected with a diverse range of local sustainability experts from Indigenous elders to government agencies and together create a community action project.
In 2020 St Brigid’s Primary School at Raymond Terrace participated in Kreative Koalas by looking at SDG 15: Life on Land. Students researched 12 endangered species and voted the Hunter River Turtle as their focus, enlisting the help of Hunter Local Land Services. Also touching on SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), 12 (Responsible consumption and production) and 13 (Climate action) the students planted a vegetable garden and used the produce to create, and then sell, meals in the school canteen. In doing so they raised $300, which they donated to the Australian Reptile Park to assist with the construction of new facilities for the Hunter River Turtle.
“One of the legacies of Kreative Koalas has been we now celebrate World Turtle Day each year and continue to raise money,” St Brigid’s teacher Kristen Jones says. “In 2021 we again donated to the Australian Reptile Park and in 2022 we are hoping to support charity Sea Shelter in their work with sea turtles. Another legacy has been the implementation of a new bin system at the school for waste reduction and participation in the REDcyle program.”
St Brigid’s will be a part of Kreative Koalas again in 2022 and Kristen has learnt to let the students lead the learning.
“Our kids are already passionate about sustainability and the environment and they will run the project,” she says. “When we started Kreative Koalas in 2020 I had all these ideas of what I wanted to do but when I actually listened to the kids I realised they already had a very clear idea of what would work and what they wanted.”
Watch the St Brigid’s students share their 2020 journey here
Kreative Koalas becomes beloved by teachers as well as students. Kitchen Garden teacher Cassandra Lindsay has delivered Kreative Koalas in two previous schools and is looking forward to delivering the program in a new format at Penrith Public School.
Students at Penrith Public School have set up a Kreative Koalas corner in their classroom
“Whilst I have identified goals and ideas that are important to me I know real success comes from giving the students ownership of the project. We will be inviting the students to be the driving force and decide our direction,” Cass says.
“The principal of Penrith Public School is highly supportive of the Kitchen Garden program and environmental awareness programs and in Term 2 and Term 3 of 2022 Kreative Koalas has been allocated space in our school timetable to run in conjunction with the Kitchen Garden program. This means the students I’ve selected, based on their interests, will be able to withdraw from class and come into my classroom to work solely on Kreative Koalas. That shows how much support the school has for the project.”
“I’ve selected Year Four students because I want these students to have the opportunity to develop leadership skills to support other students as they go into Year 5 and 6. My experience participating in Kreative Koalas in the past is that it immerses students in learning that has genuine impact, builds their networks, and helps them develop new skills. By starting early, we can help develop them into capacity builders for other students, a very important skill as they transition into high school.
“I’m looking at long term engagement. I’ve got a mix of students in the group. Some of them are very artistic. Some are good at thinking outside the box. I look forward to finding out what they want to focus on.
“The Kreative Koalas model is designed to involve the whole school in the project with students as young as kindergarten learning about its purpose, which is aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
Action4Agriculture has been working with young people for almost 20 years with Kreative Koalas and its partner programs, The Archibull Prize and Young Farming Champions. Throughout this time director Lynne Strong and her team have listened to the environmental and social concerns of our next generation and built resources to support them.
“Kreative Koalas allows our young people to create and implement their own solutions relevant to their school and their communities. They learn how to design and deliver projects that have genuine impact in making the world a better place. We welcome to the 2022 Kreative Koalas program returning schools and teachers, new schools and a new cohort of students and look forward to watching their sustainability journeys,” Lynne says.