My Enviroschools Journey – Sophie Handford, Enviroschools Intern 2019

Since starting at Kāpiti College in 2014, I was eager to become involved in school life. I signed up to almost every group, club, and sports team possible, but quickly found that spreading my time this thin wasn’t going to work. When it came to whittling down these groups, the Eco Action group was the first one I wasn’t willing to quit and I’m so glad I didn’t.

Presenting at the Choose Clean Water Hearing in Parliament 2018

Little did I know when getting involved with this environmental group, our school was an Enviroschool! This didn’t mean much to me at the time but now, as I sit here writing this and reflecting on the opportunities, highlights and challenges, it means more than I ever thought it could.

Through Enviroschools, I had the opportunity to present at a Select Committee Hearing in Parliament, visit Koraunui School and gift them the Māui Dolphin Print, present at the National Enviroschools Secondary Hui, and so much more.

These opportunities developed me into a more passionate, educated and motivated young wahine. They also influenced my decisions outside of school. Experiencing all of these things, gave me a taster of what I could potentially spend more time doing and that made me extremely excited! It made me so happy to know that there are groups out there like Enviroschools, who are doing such important work in partnership with others, to foster a generation of young people who instinctively think and act sustainably.

This excitement and passion provoked me to send an email to Enviroschools about potential work experience. I made a very conscious decision to commit my 2019 to the planet, influenced by my learnings from the Enviroschools process and kaupapa.

“Enviroschools has taught me the importance of thinking and acting sustainably”.

We are destroying our own planet and time is running out. Banding together to make sustainable decisions is what needs to happen. This idea of thinking and acting sustainably has shaped some changes I have made in my own life. Our family has reduced plastic waste by around half, we are always emailing food companies to let them know we aren’t happy with the amount of plastic packaging they use and we use bikes far more often.

Snorkeling in Kāpiti Marine Reserve with Mountains to Sea

I have made a decision that I not only want to live and lead a sustainable life but that I want to inspire others to do so too, just like Enviroschools has done for me. The learnings I took away from the Enviroschools Programme have influenced my study plans too and I now plan on studying environmental science. I am extremely thankful for the facilitators, staff, and volunteers who work for Enviroschools. They have allowed me and so many other young people to discover the ability they have to make sustainable decisions and actions, without even thinking about it!

“For me, ‘Enviroschools’ prompts thoughts of unity, a journey, sustainability, youth and aroha” 

I have too many highlights to mention all of them but a part of my Enviroschools journey which I absolutely loved was being able to see the impact of my actions. From watering and weeding the maara kai, to installing litter traps, to presenting at the Choose Clean Water select committee hearing, I was able to see the positive impact I was having and this is something that brought me great satisfaction and joy.

There are so many things you can get involved with nowadays which send money overseas and it’s so hard to understand what that money is physically doing and how it has helped people and the environment. Enviroschools made me happy, it allowed me to understand the power and impact of a simple action. I also grew to understand the ripple effect more, how any small positive action can create more positive outcomes.

The Kāpiti Enviro Youth Summit I co-organised with a student from Paraparaumu College.