'Don’t litter, and respect nature and animals… Don’t chop down all the trees and keep birds safe and don’t pollute their homes …. Protect and look after the birds so that we don’t lose our birds….If we can protect the birds then we will have birds in the future.'
These are the simple but profound messages of several primary school learners who were part of our ‘Save the Birds’ game at Princess Vlei. Not yet in their teens, but these youngsters show more wisdom than many of our most powerful global leaders.
Forty-five learners, from Hillwood, Buck Road and Muhammadeyah Primary Schools, took part in the imaginative game, where they were 'time-travellers' from 200 years in the future, from a world where birds had been driven to extinction. Their task was to find out about birds: what they needed, what threatened them, and how to protect them to ensure that they did not go extinct.
The time travellers were met by the ‘Spirit Guide’ (aka Denisha Anand), a spirit with wisdom gathered from all the ages, who told them how the first indigenous people who lived near Princess Vlei lived in harmony with nature and looked after the plants, the butterflies and the birds. ‘But then new people came, who did not care for the land, who chopped down the forests and built in the wetlands… luckily, some of the new people were different. They learnt from the indigenous people, and have continued to try to protect nature where they can. That is why Princess Vlei is still here, and has not been built on by a shopping mall. So we must learn from the wisdom of the indigenous people, and keep searching for ways to live in harmony with earth and other creatures.’
The Supreme Time Lord (Brendan Bussy) explained that to the learners that they had travelled from a world where everything was different, and Princess Vlei was just concrete with no birds, insects or plants. He explained also that humans were cyborgs, and could not longer talk so they had to find other ways of communicating. Their important mission was to discover everything they could about birds, and to craft messages for the people of 2022 to ensure that there were still birds in 2222.
He warned them that they had to come running back to the time travelling ship when they heard the siren (a vuvuzela) as if they didn’t get through the time portal before it closed, they would be stuck in 2022
The children investigated the area in groups, and made many interesting observations and discoveries, which they later shared with the group. They were helped by the time lords, who were also sometimes their teachers. When the Vuvuzela sounded, they all charged back to get through the portal in time.
This exciting game, sustained by Brendon’s zany imagination and role playing abilities, is a wonderful way to help children think about the consequences of today’s actions for the future, and to realise that can play an important role in creating a future where nature and humans can flourish.
Below are some of the observations made by our keen-eyed time travellers.
Posts by Bridget Pitt unless stated otherwise.