The event was co-ordinated by the Princess Vlei Forum, the Children’s Art Centre, and Frank Joubert Art Centre as part of the Flight of Dreams programme. It was attended by learners from South Peninsula High School, Zeekovlei Primary School and Hyde Park Primary School.
The learners were welcomed by Emile Jansen from Heal the Hood, who told them about the history of Princess Vlei. They were then divided into three groups, to attend the three programmes in rotation.
Volunteers from the Cape Bird Club took children on a walk to spot interesting birds, with the help of a bird identification chart from Rondevlei reserve. "It was a pleasure to do the Bird Walks with the children from the different schools, and we enjoyed seeing the interest the children displayed in learning to identify the birds and answering the many questions they asked. We would like to help the Princess Vlei Forum with similar events in future," said Anne Gray of the Cape Bird Club.
Interesting birds spotted included Blacksmith Lapwings, pipits, purple heron, and a pelican. Find out more about the birds of Princess Vlei here.
City of Cape Town conservationists were organised by the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET) to give the children a good understanding of why wetlands are so important for our environmental health and water resources, and what life forms are sustained by these critical ecosystems. Children had the opportunity to hold a corn snake and examine a leopard toad close up. Taryn van Neel of CTEET said, "We are all part of the food chain, and destroying one natural habitat area would definitely impact negatively on different species. Thus we try and make children, parents and all people in the community aware of the importance of our natural environment. These kind of events not only target students but the community, and benefits us all presently and for the future."
Ayesha Price from the Children’s Art Centre helped learners to create observational drawings of the landscape in charcoal. She showed the children how to create texture by rubbing on a rough surface such as bark or a rock.
The programme ended with a musical performance by Collin Meyer, Quinton Matthews, and Bradley Van Sitters from the Khoi and San Active Awarness Group (KSAAG). The performance gave the children an opportunity to learn about traditional KhoiKhoi instruments, and to learn a song in the Khoekhoegowab Language.
The event highlighted again the value of Princess Vlei as an educational resource for local schools – the Hyde Park Primary learners were able to walk to the site. Hyde Park teacher Ingrid Solomon said, "The kids thoroughly enjoyed it. All the teachers as well. I even bought up the courage to touch a snake... When they did the art work I was amazed at the talent some of them had. Once again what was highlighted for me is how our present Education Department is failing our children as far the creative arts is concerned having removed the specialised teachers from the school."
The event was part of our Flight of Dreams programme to make children aware of wetland habitats, and to celebrate and honour the birds of Princess Vlei and other local wetlands. The programme will culminate in a Carnival Parade on 27 September this year.
Thanks to Anne Gray, Celia Wolfe, Anne McCloud, Penny Dichmont and Gillian Barnes, Cape Bird Club; Cape Town Environmental Education Trust; Emile Jansen; Kelvin Cochrane and Golden Bake for supplying and making cheese rolls; Collin, Quinton and Bradlley for supplying the music; and Gavin Lawson for taking photographs. Go the Cape Bird Club website for a wonderful account of the day.