*This is the second blog in a series documenting a recent trip to visit Kids to Kids projects in Costa Rica by Patrick, Kids to Kids Program Coordinator. To read the first blog, please click here.

The Project

In the December 2009 grant cycle, World Connect’s Kids to Kids program supported a project in Quebradas, a small community in Southern Costa Rica. The project, Talleres Ambientalistas Quebradas (Quebradas Environmentalists’ Workshops), was a week-long environmental education camp that took place at the Quebradas Biological Center. Located about a 30-minute drive up into an elevated region of cloud forest, the majority of Quebradas’ youth had never before visited the Center. Supported by a Kids to Kids Grant Award, 35 kids ages 6-18 traveled to the Center every day and participated in workshops about caring for the environment, focused on environmental themes such as water, animals, trees, air, energy and waste. They also participated in fun activities to reinforce the themes such as forest scavenger hunts, art projects and musical performances led by Community Leaders and the local Peace Corps Volunteer. Families were even invited up to the Center on the last night for a closing campfire and celebration where kids shared stories about what they had learned and the community celebrated its commitment to environmental leadership.

Just one of many fun stories about the project…

On the third day of the camp, each team had to perform a set of challenges, one of which was crawling through a mud bath to complete an obstacle course. Helen, a girl whose parents are very protective and was almost not allowed to come to the camp, was very hesitant to get dirty at first, but she ultimately went for it choosing to not let down her team, and she couldn’t get enough of it afterwards! She was giving muddy hugs to everyone who would accept one, and the next night at the campfire her parents said she couldn’t stop talking about how much fun she was having at the camp!

About Quebradas

Quebradas is a small town but it plays a crucial role in supporting the health and wellbeing of the surrounding region. The town is named after the Quebradas River and located in the Upper Quebradas River Basin. Water that originates in the Upper Quebradas River Basin flows down into the nearby cities and towns and supplies water for over 90,000 people. Residents of Quebradas take great pride in being “ambientalista” (environmentalists), and they recognize that their community is positioned to play an important role in protecting the regional water supply from pollution and erosion.

Unfortunately, there are few resources available for the community to support any type of creative educational projects for youth, which means kids in Quebradas have missed out on important opportunities to learn how to protect the local environment . For example, the Quebradas Biological Center is the main source of environmental education for the community, but few families can afford the transportation costs to send their kids up to take advantage of the Center. Through Kids to Kids, World Connect was able to support local community leaders’ amazing efforts to educate youth about the beauty and importance of the local environment and to train the next generation of environmental leaders in Quebradas.

From the Kids to Kids Program Coordinator

“What a cool Kids to Kids project. The community leaders and the Peace Corps Volunteer were dynamic and genuinely committed to training future environmental leaders. The Quebradas Biological Center is an amazing location for a hands-on environmental camp, where kids can not only learn about local flora and fauna but see it, touch it, feel it, and learn how to protect it.

“But what stood out to me most about this Kids to Kids project was the ripple effect. By all accounts the camp was fantastic, and the kids had a fun, educational experience that is going to impact their lives for many years to come. But the success of the camp impacted so much more than just the kids of Quebradas. Families raved about the campfire and celebration on the last night of the camp and parents were more than justgrateful, they were inspired. Immediately after the camp, a group of local parents decided that they wanted to sustain the impact of the Kids to Kids project by creating a local chapter of Guias y Scouts (Boys and Girls Scouts). They organized more parents and more kids to participate, and one week after my visit they officially launched the group at a town festival!”

Quebradas Moving Forward

World Connect is excited to announce its continued investment in the youth of Quebradas through another Kids to Kids project! As part of our June 2010 grant cycle, Kids to Kids Members approved the project Amigos del Ambiente Quebradas (Quebradas Friends of the Environment). The project will allow the Quebradas School to integrate creative environmental education through an organic school garden and a school-based community recycling program!

To see more pictures of Kids to Kids projects in Quebradas, become a fan of Kids to Kids on Facebook and visit our photo albums. To support more Kids to Kids projects like these, please make a donation to the Kids to Kids All-Kids Fund here.