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Published: 2011-12-06 00:00:00

A ceremony has been held in Hamilton today to celebrate the 10<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Enviroschools Foundation, which has its roots in the Waikato.

Waikato Regional Council organised the event at the Hamilton Gardens, which was attended by about 100 students from 6 Waikato primary schools.

The Enviroschools programme was first trialled at three Hamilton schools in 1993 – due to its success the programme was launched nationally in December 2001. Since then, the number of Enviroschools has grown from 12 to 812 nationwide.

The programme promotes the integration of sustainable practices into school curriculum.  Students from schools involved in the programme identify initiatives which can be implemented and also work with the local community to raise funds for these projects.

During the day, students participated in environmentally-themed activities and celebrated the presentation of Enviroschools’ Green Gold awards to Rhode St and Hillcrest Normal schools. Initiatives introduced by the two schools include waste reduction, recycling schemes and food gardens.

Goodwood, Te Miro and Hukanui schools are the other schools in the Waikato with the Green Gold status.

The schools join an elite group recognised nationally for student-led environmental work. The Green Gold award, in particular, recognises schools for incorporating environmental sustainability into all aspects of school and community life.

Waikato Regional Council coordinates the Enviroschools programme in the region and also works in partnership with city and district councils to fund the programme. The regional council also has a grant fund that schools can apply to for their environmental initiatives.

Regional council schools programme coordinator Andrea Soanes said 142 schools around the Waikato were committed to making the environment more vibrant and healthy.

“It’s great to see so many Waikato schools participating in the programme and making environmental education part of the everyday learning of around 35,000 students. It embeds sustainability in the things students do and gets them involved in decision-making.

“Today has also been a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the ongoing success of the Enviroschools Foundation in the town where it was first trialled,” Ms Soanes said.

In October, the Enviroschools Foundation was awarded the United Nations-HABBITAT New Zealand Scroll of Honour for its promotion of socially and environmentally sustainable communities.

Enviroschools Foundation director Heidi Mardon said during today’s celebration: “Back in the ’90s people thought kids couldn’t do anything about the environment. Over the past 10 years of Enviroschools the students have proved they can make a difference.”

Today’s event was sponsored by Mother Earth, with additional support from Bunnings.