Dilmah Conservation partnered with The Funday Times to conduct a fun and interactive half-day workshop designed to inspire children to use print and other media to pursue their passions and gain new knowledge about the world. The workshop was held on the 24th of September 2018 at the Sri Lanka Press Institute and was conducted by Dr. Gerard van der Weijen – a Belgian expert on young reader initiatives and the inventor of the world-famous ‘Reading Passport’. The workshop involved a nature quiz, a photography competition, and a chance to interview one of Sri Lanka’s only two Mount Everest summiteers – Johann Peris.

The photography competition, conceptualised with the support of Dilmah Conservation, gave the children an opportunity to artistically express and celebrate the beauty of the natural world and depict their favorite moments and things in life. The children themselves voted for what they thought was the most beautiful and creative photograph. Although ‘nature and conservation’ was just one category in the photography competition, most of the pictures submitted, and the top 10 favorite images voted by the children were of natural landscapes or wildlife highlighting the inherent fascination and love for nature in young children.

The nature quiz allowed the children to develop their independent learning skills and learn about Sri Lanka’s rich endemic biodiversity. For the quiz, the children were required to find answers to questions related to Sri Lanka’s insects and snakes without assistance in displayed educational posters. The top 10 performing students in the quiz were awarded Dilmah Conservation prizes which included a free Dilmah Conservation educational publication to foster further interest in nature and conservation.

During the workshop the students engaged in a lively discussion with Dr. Gerard on the value of newspapers and other print media as a means of information gathering and sharing, and the importance of independent learning by reading to pursue one’s interests and passions. The children were encouraged to use social media and other digital platforms in a positive way to learn more about the world. Quizzes and question and answer sessions were used frequently to engage the students and build their independent learning and reasoning skills. Dr. Gerard also taught the children how to conduct an informative interview in preparation for their session with Johann Peris.

The fun interview session with Johann gave the children a unique opportunity to learn about the exciting world of mountaineering and hear firsthand accounts of life in the harsh but beautiful natural terrains of the Earth’s highest altitudes. Johann shared his inspiring story of overcoming often deadly challenges to reach the summit of Mount Everest with the children. Through his story and presentation, he encouraged the children to follow their passions and persevere responsibly through hard times.

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