Learning to appreciate mother nature

CNC reporting from Toronto
Added On April 9, 2013

As earth day is approaching, a group of children got in touch with Mother Nature and spent the weekend getting their hands dirty with flour, mud and many of nature's materials in the Canadian city of Toronto.

The outdoor grounds of a former industrial site, which sits right in the middle of the bustling city, is now the gathering place for young budding environmentalists.

Now turned into a community environmental center by Evergreen, a national charity, Evergreen Brick Works help inspire everyone to live, work and play sustainably by connecting people with nature.

With Earth Day just around the corner, Mona Dhanjal, Evergreen's food program assistant, said things are ramping up this month.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): MONA DHANJAL, Food program assistant
"I think Earth Day is like Christmas for all environmentalists, but at the same time, I think most of us here would like to spread the message that Earth Day is everyday and we should live our lives in sustainable ways, otherwise we're going to be left with nothing."

Named one of the top 10 geotourism destinations in the world by National Geographic in 2010, Evergreen Brick Works offers year-round programs and activities for people of all ages. But one of their big focuses is getting kids involved.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): PHOEBE HO, CNC correspondent
"One way to get kids interested and engaged of course is through fun and hands-on activities, and that's why Evergreen Brick Works has a number of nature-based activities, whether it's making your own Earth-friendly play dough, or playing with nature's very own toys and playground, like the one right behind me, it's all about teaching kids to love and appreciate Mother Nature."

Dhanjal said their goal is to help inspire kids to think globally and act locally.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): MONA DHANJAL, Food program assistant
"It's the perfect opportunity to teach them right from the beginning, how we do compost and how we recycle and we try to reuse and reduce, and all those 'R' words that everyone is always teaching them at school, and we really do believe it's about getting them when they're young, and teaching them those lessons before someone else teaches them the other way to do things, so they can be stewards of the Earth and they can take care of the planet that they're going to inherit from all of us."

One of the workshops they offer is called Hands in the Bowl, an intuitive cooking class for children. Aside from getting to take home a delicious meal, Dhanjal said it's also about teaching them a much bigger lesson.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): MONA DHANJAL, Food program assistant
"It's teaching children to have open minds about the environment and living sustainably with the environment through food, through art, through crafts, through everything we do here."

The recipe on the chopping board this weekend is for kids to make their very own Earth-friendly play-dough with simple ingredients that are often found in the kitchen.

Joel Prussky, who joined his six-year-old daughter in the kitchen, said aside from having some father-daughter time, he wanted to teach her to appreciate food.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): JOEL PRUSSKY, Father
"We've become very disconnected from our lives because we live in a big city where everything is provided for us. It's very easy for us to get everything you want, this is a way for her to understand that it wasn't always like that and that there's a connection between getting that food from the ground and into your mouth, or apples you buy from the farmer here actually came from a place where someone grew it and actually took the time to do all that stuff. Most kids who grew up in the city would never know that."

Prussky is also trying to promote the same idea at home. His daughter, Katie Nathanson, said she's leared a thing or two about protecting the environment.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): KATIE NATHANSON, Visitor
"To use bikes, not cars, 'cause the smoke it affects the air and you can't breathe well if you use too much cars."

Aside from cooking, kids can also spend the entire day outdoors and learn how to start a fire, go hiking, make crafts out of natural materials, and play in Chimney Court, a natural playground designed to activate the imaginations of children. 

Five-year-old Nicolas Gonzalez is of one many children who couldn't get enough of all the excitement.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): NICOLAS GONZALEZ, Visitor
"Today I'm having a very fun day. I made play dough, I went hiking and my dad went down the mountain and he's very nice and he helped me climb up the mountain."

While he's enjoying his time outdoors, the main message isn't lost on him.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): NICOLAS GONZALEZ, Visitor
"All of this stuff is about Earth Day, and Earth Day is about cleaning the Earth ,which is putting stuff in recycling and helping the Earth,....so I have a song about Earth Day, this is how it goes. The title is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.....(singing). Reduce, reuse, recycle, the words that we have known. We have to save our planet so we can live and grow. We might be only children, but we will to try and see. And we have to save the planet, it's up to you and me."

Earth Day, coming up on April 22, is a global event celebrated by environmentalists from over 192 countries and regions every year.