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Environmental Sustainability and Inclusion Project

The Asociación Ambiente Sur carries out among its actions towards the community the work for the inclusion of people with disabilities. Throughout its history it has implemented initiatives with this objective such as: accessibility to the Environmental Interpretation Center; production of the Documentary "Viajeros", with translation in Argentina Sign Language; construction of an inclusive path in the Laguna Ortiz RNU and support for the work of Grupo Retoño Patagónico and the Foundation for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities Being Part, among the main inclusive proposals

Now, it develops the Sustainability and Inclusion Project as part of the inclusive actions and environmental awareness promoted at the Environmental Interpretation Center "Estuary of the Gallegos River" (CIERG).

The Project has an initial financing of the Micro-Projects Program of the German Embassy in Argentina, as well as the support of local companies and organizations. It covers the energy sustainability aspects of CIERG, linking it to work for inclusion. Regarding the Inclusive aspect of the Project, Ambiente Sur broadens its environmental awareness and education strategies by participating with the Foundation for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities Being a Party and the Patagonian Retoño Group of the "Transition to Adult Life" (TVA) project which they carry out and is aimed at young people with disabilities between 16 and 22 years. This joint inter-institutional work has the background of the participation of young people integrated into TVA as collaborators in the games of the "Kermesse Tobiana", organized by the Association on the occasion of the celebration of the Month of the Hooded Grebe last August.

In this project, we seek to work with people with disabilities so that they can become Environmental Promoters through training, also promoting an improvement in their quality of life. Thus, five young people of the TVA Project have already participated in six workshops in the CIERG, in which the members of the educational staff of Ambiente Sur together with professionals of the TVA program developed environmental education activities addressing specific topics related to the project. The contents refer to: urban solid waste (garbage), water, energy and the ways in which we can contribute with our daily actions to the care and better use of these resources. Emphasis is placed on thinking of young people as future environmental promoters, so one of the meetings was oriented to the role played by these promoters.

After the training, they will be responsible for applying the lessons learned through a pilot awareness program that will take place in the neighborhood "Virgen del Valle", located 7 km from the city of Río Gallegos, in the homes of the families interested in this problem, allowing in this way that they can carry out the role of environmental promoter.

On Saturday December 16 will be the last meeting of this year of the project, which will carry forward a first approach to the neighborhood "Virgen del Valle" in which young people will develop the role of environmental promoters. The young participants, TVA professionals and educational and conservation agents of the Asociación Ambiente Sur will participate in this next meeting.

Challenges for inclusion

The Association has approached this experience as a challenge that involves an exchange of learning with young people and the development of innovative awareness strategies that can encompass all sectors of the community, generate and multiply behavior friendly to the environment.

Likewise, the professionals of the Transition to Adult Life Project considered that in this way the participation of young people is sought from an active social role, in the accompaniment of their development as citizens. They also considered this work as "an opportunity for young people with disabilities, highlighting their potential and promoting difficult participation spaces that, in our locality, are difficult to generate. It seemed to us, they said, very important to be able to link them to sensitive and relevant causes such as the environment and its conservation. The purpose is to make them protagonists, to be able to train specifically on a subject and then have the possibility of returning to society the knowledge and experiences they have achieved ".

From the Association, emphasis is thus placed on promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities and helping to provide them with equal opportunities and full participation, bearing in mind that such equalization of opportunities and social integration are substantial parts of the policies that favor sustainable development . For this reason, Ambiente Sur has focused on the implementation of some of the initiatives considered necessary and fundamental for this objective.

Regarding the aspect of energy sustainability, the objective of the Project that South Environment develops is to make improvements in the Interpretation Center by implementing tools to streamline waste management and water and energy management, and generate a sustainable model to be followed by other institutions, as well as an environmental education and awareness-raising tool for those who visit the Center. Being able to demonstrate during visits that the efficient use of energy and resources is possible, becomes a great opportunity to affect a significant number of people.

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