Destination conservation
Weledeh, St. Joe's students take part in national environmental pilot program

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( May 17/00) - Swarms of children with 'People Power' T-shirts and 'People Power' face paint mill around the Destination Conservation booth at the Spring Trade Show. Their booth is an anomaly, surrounded by sombre, 'professional' displays.

Most businesses at the trade show try convincing people to consume more. But not Destination Conservation. Their aim is to convince people to consume less.

"You can't just waste energy," says Crystal Chasse, a student at Ecole St. Joseph school.

"I want to help the environment because it's getting polluted."

Destination Conservation is a national environmental program designed for schools.

It's in its third and last year as a pilot project with the Catholic School board.

Two schools, Ecole St. Joseph and Weledeh, are currently involved with the pilot.

The school board issued a challenge to both schools -- they get 40 per cent of money saved through their projects. If the school board saves $1,000, the school gets $400.

Teachers are positive about the program.

Ecole St. Joseph school teacher Marla Chasse says the program is important for adults as well as children.

"The environment is important. It's the future of our kids," she says.

"It's fun to teach kids about environmental strategy," she adds. "And the children are responsive."

Carmen Gobeil, a Grade 4 teacher at St. Joe's and co-ordinator for the project, puts all her extra-curricular time into the program.

"We're building an awareness in the children so that it becomes a way of life," she says.

Gobeil stresses that the program is run by the children and that the teachers are only facilitators.

"There are two parts to the project," says Greg Krysko, public liaison officer with the project and parent volunteer at St. Joe's.

"We focus on kids' lifestyles and also the school's infrastructure," he says.

The next big event for Destination Conservation is a wheel exchange on May 28 at the RCMP bicycle rodeo.

"The point of the wheel exchange is promoting alternative transportation," says Krysko.

"People power is the most efficient type of energy," he says.