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Environmental promoters in action

The Asociación Ambiente Sur has been carrying out the Sustainability and Inclusion Project since 2017 as part of the inclusive actions and environmental awareness promoted at the Environmental Interpretation Center "Estuary of the River Gallegos" (CIERG). The proposal links the actions for inclusion with aspects of energy sustainability of CIERG.

Ambiente Sur develops the inclusive aspect of the project together with the Foundation for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities Being Part and the Retoño Patagónico Group through the project "Transition to Adult Life" (TVA) that they carry out and is aimed at young people with a disability between 16 and 22 years old.

Within the framework of this project it is proposed to work with people with disabilities so that they can become Environmental Promoters, through training and the application of the lessons learned through a pilot plan, thus promoting an improvement in their quality of life, including them in the topics of environmental education and generating for them comparable opportunities and full participation in the community.

During 2017 the training of young people of the TVA Project was carried out through their participation 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 to the project. The contents covered the 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.

This year, considering that the objective is for young people to take on the role of environmental promoters, an awareness program to be carried out in the "Virgen del Valle" neighborhood, located 7 km from the city of Río Gallegos, is being considered as closure. , in the homes of families interested in this problem, thus allowing them to carry out the role of environmental promoter and apply their learning.

With this purpose, after the summer break, activities were resumed and two days of work were completed. Last March 5 was the first meeting in the Interpretation Center that consisted of a review of what was learned and served to prepare the young promoters for the next visits to the Virgen del Valle neighborhood; On March 8, visits were made to families to raise awareness of good practices in the management of waste in the home, as well as ways to reduce them in everyday tasks, such as purchases in supermarkets, among others.

The testimonies after this experience in the neighborhood, give an account of the importance of the work developed. A member of one of the families who received the visit indicated that "I saw the promoters determined, unwrapped to communicate, without embarrassment. I noticed that they explained, in a very understandable way, the step by step how to buy and what to do with the garbage. "

From the professional support team of Fundación Ser Parte and Grupo Retoño Patagónico, they pointed out that the practical application of the project was a mutual learning experience "in which the diversity and uniqueness of each young person was highlighted. Some of them surprised us with their empowerment, overcoming their own communication limitations, transmitting the message with spontaneity and clarity to the community in relation to urban solid waste and, above all, feeling recognized by the information they were transmitting "and highlighted the importance that "there are other adults listening to them and valuing what they have to say. It was really exciting for us as a team and very meaningful for their lives. "

On the other hand, they evaluated that the activity was important to appreciate those who "have a lot of resources to function in the social sphere but in a situation in which they assume a leading role, they show certain insecurity, requiring strengthening the support during the experience".

Finally, the professionals said that "the only way to overcome these barriers is to continue having and generating opportunities that assign an active role to young people within their community."

An energy efficiency model

In relation to energy sustainability, the project aims to make improvements in the Interpretation Center by implementing tools to streamline waste management and water and energy management, and generate a sustainable model for other institutions to follow. instead, a tool of environmental education and awareness for those who visit the Center.

In this regard, progress has already been made in preparing the bases for the construction of the new office that will operate in the CIERG, for which reusable materials have been collected, thus minimizing the use of raw materials. Among them, glass and plastic bottles filled with earth and polystyrene were assembled to be used as insulating material.

Regarding the equipment that will provide renewable energy to the Center, it has already been acquired and consists of solar panels, a wind turbine, a solar thermal collector and a biodigester to treat liquid effluents. At the same time, progress is being made in the design of programs and materials that provide visitors with information on the efficient use of energy from the use of these equipment to meet the energy requirements necessary for an optimal functioning of the CIERG office.

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