What Can Kids Do?

Junior Eco-Clubs' All-Japan Festival

What can children do when they want to learn more about the nature around them or help to protect the environment? In Japan, they can join a junior eco-club. Supported by the Ministry of the Environment, junior eco-clubs let children take the initiative on environmental issues. A new club can be set up if there are at least two kids aged from preschool through high-school age and one adult supporter. In fiscal 2007 (April 2007 to March 2008), 167,466 children were registered at 4,216 junior eco-clubs all over Japan.


Annual Get-Together
Once a year, the Junior Eco-clubs' All-Japan Festival is held so that the children in the eco-clubs can report on their activities and meet and talk with members of other clubs. The thirteenth annual festival took place on March 29 and March 30, 2008, in the city of Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture.

The centerpiece of the festival was a display of wall posters submitted by individual eco-clubs summarizing their activities over the past year. A large number of clubs sent in posters, and 382 of them were chosen for display.

A further screening was conducted to determine which club in each prefecture was the most active and engaged in the most original research. A total of 49 clubs with 349 members were chosen. These children came together at the festival, and the event was marked by many lively discussions on ecology.

A Packed Agenda
The first day of the festival, March 29, featured a special program for the 49 designated clubs. The children from these clubs toured a museum dedicated to environmental issues and a recycling plant. They also went on an eco-cruise to Dokai Bay, where efforts are being made to improve the quality of the water.


The wall posters were testament to the hard work of the children. For example, the children in Kochi Prefecture's Noichi Egg Club and Chick Club wrote about how they raised chickens, used school lunch leftovers as feed, made fertilizer out of the chicken manure, and conceived of other ways to lead environmentally friendly lives. The Children's Eco Club Kushiro in Hokkaido, meanwhile, reported on its studies of the insects and fish at Kushiro Bog.

On March 30, members of the general public were invited to attend and were given hands-on programs, such as scientific experiments, as well as samples of tasty treats made from local ingredients.

The participants not only had fun but also learned a great deal about the environment, and the event was a resounding success from start to finish. Through their participation, the children had a great opportunity to look at ecology from new angles.