Since the beginning of time, music has been a catalyst for change. Today, music is linked to academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity. Rachel’s Network Member Sarah duPont is using music and the arts as a positive force in Benin and the Amazon Rainforest.
During the Rachel’s Network Fall Retreat in Yellowstone National Park, our members were inspired by a presentation by sculptor and ecologist George Bumann who conveyed the value of wild places beyond the facts and figures we often fall back on. We asked George about his process, the experience of working in Yellowstone National Park, and his advice for inspiring a wonder for nature in others.
“All children should be exposed to the arts, celebrating humans’ greatest creative achievements,” says Sarah duPont, founder of CIAMO, one of Africa’s first tuition-free schools to offer art and music classes. The project was inspired by Sarah’s work in the U.S. developing curriculum for the humanities and environmental education, areas that are known to impact creative thinking. Bringing her idea for CIAMO to fruition, however, required six years of dedicated planning before the first students walked through the school’s door.
I recently left my job as a naturalist and environmental educator in order to teach environmental education in underserved neighborhoods in Milwaukee. I did this because I know that soon, the next generation of children will be making the personal and public policy decisions that will profoundly affect the planet. This generation of children has had the least exposure to nature of any generation in human history. Many inner-city neighborhoods lack safe, attractive outdoor spaces for wandering, experimenting, building, observing, and exploring. Without a positive personal relationship to the land as children, they will not be compelled to preserve it as adults.