This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Earth Day Network India. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How Students Of Shree Vasishtha Vidhyalaya Started An Environmental Revolution

More from Earth Day Network India

WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.

This article was originally published by Earth Day Network – India in its eBook ‘Pathways to Green India: Innovative Ideas From Students, Volume 1′.

Students of Shree Vasishtha Vidhyalaya (SVV), Surat, Gujarat, run Project 1600 that aims to help sustain marine ecosystems. Gujarat has the longest coastline of any Indian state. It has more than 20% of India’s 7,500 km of coastline. Situated on the south bank of the River Tapi, about 14 km from the sea, Surat has always attracted traders and merchants from afar.

The students of SVV were of the opinion that although there was such a large coastline in the state, often, not enough attention was paid to the problems of the coastal ecosystems. Increasing degradation was happening at an accelerating pace. They had learned in school about the many benefits of the rich mangrove vegetation that historically grew along the coast but wondered whether those who didn’t have any formal education also knew this.

The students decided to take up a pilot project to see what could be done. They selected the coastal village of Junagaon, a swampy coastal belt that was just 15 km away from their school, so easy to reach and make frequent visits to. Teams of students, accompanied by their teachers and other experts, first surveyed the area. They observed that while there were rich mangrove forests in some parts, there was scanty growth in some areas and bald patches in others. The mangrove growth in the latter areas was likely stunted by overgrazing and pollution from the factories, while other areas had been cleared to make way for the development of infrastructure.

The surprising fact was that experiments confirmed that the area had temperatures suitable for the profusion of mangroves. So why wasn’t there abundant growth? Even if the areas had been denuded in the past, reforestation programs would have brought back the area to its former self. These were the questions that needed answers, and the students began an exhaustive search for the reasons.

After discussions with the villagers, the conclusion the students came to was that the locals had limited knowledge about the many uses of mangroves. They also lacked the specialized training required to develop mangrove nurseries. The students decided they would address both these issues. Thus, Project 1600 was born. “Our strategy was based on 3Cs (Classroom, Campus, Community) and 3Ss (Students, Search Research, Sustainable Development),” say the students of SVV.

Mangrove plantations in Gujarat||Credits: Gujarat Forest Department

The students first put together relevant data that showcased the many uses of mangroves. These include: mangroves act as buffers against the effects of natural disasters such as cyclones and the onrush of high tide; they reduce the engulfing of land and seawater (and thus protecting shorelines); their roots play a vital role in stabilizing soil (which is crucial as coastal regions have a high density of population); and they provide a conducive environment for the breeding of several species of fishes and crabs, amongst others.

Working with the forest department and the local village administration, the students of SVV learned to identify the different mangrove species, the ideal season to plant, the most suitable sites and the most favorable techniques. The forest officers explained the unique way mangrove seeds need to be planted, in raised beds of mud to ensure that the seeds get embedded and not washed away during high tide. Armed with all this knowledge, these students made presentations on “The Benefits of Mangroves” during morning assemblies at local schools. Intense workshops were then conducted for those students, who expressed their willingness to be a part of Project 1600, using video clips, PowerPoint presentations and other interest-generating communication means.

The attendees were encouraged to share what was learned with their families and communities as well. When planting season came, SVV students and their newly-formed friends from the local schools demonstrated their acquired skills with great zeal and enthusiasm. There were 200 enthusiasts who worked alongside local forest officials. 500 mangrove seeds were collected and sown in the ocean bed at Junagaon. The villagers got enthused and came forward to help. They assured the students of SVV that they would care for the plants.

This was the first time that such a large number of students from the Surat area had taken part in an environmental program. The most striking feature was that it was a student-centered exercise that reinforced the school’s motto, ‘Passion for Excellence’. Small hands, but what a mega environmental program they created!

You must be to comment.

More from Earth Day Network India

Similar Posts

By Sawan

By Saumya Rastogi

By Charkha features

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below