Connecting urbanised youth with their natural heritage – Woodlands Ring Secondary School students reflect on the Sungei Loyang mangrove cleanup

03 Sep 2011 – As schools in Singapore close for the September break, about 50 students from Woodlands Ring Secondary School spent a meaningful Saturday morning at Sungei Loyang for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS).

Each year, the Secondary Three Biology students kickstart their September holidays by doing their part for Mother Nature. This is the 11th year Woodlands Ring Secondary School has participated in the ICCS, led by Mr Jack Chong, HOD for Character and Citizenship Education, and assisted by former students who volunteer year after year to guide their juniors.

Most of the students were coming face to face with a mangrove habitat and its biodiversity for the first time – hence the event provides a platform to connect our urbanised younger generation back to nature.

Here are excerpts of some of the students’ reflections:

“I feel that ICCS is a meaningful programme as it enables us to know more about our environment, as we are living in a developed area. In this way, we can have a more holistic education and we can learn about taking care of what Mother Nature has entrusted to us. Initially, I did not like the idea of ICCS. After going through the process, I have learnt to enjoy the activity and learn about the importance of our environment.” – Camilia Koh Ching Wen

“I felt that the whole programme was relatively tiring, but it was worthwhile. I also came close to a real swamp life as I saw the habitat of mud lobsters and many seagrasses. Overall, the trip was an eye-opener and was meaningful.” – Azizul Hakim Bin Mohamad Said

“Before the cleanup, I felt very sad to see rubbish cluttered all over the mangrove and the strong stench from the litter made me even more depressed. I knew that I had to play my part as a concerned citizen to clean the mangrove and to preserve the wildlife. However, I had a great sense of satisfaction when I saw all the rubbish being cleared up and seeing the mangrove so clean once again. As a Biology student, I can help to raise awareness of the public and organise more projects to clean these areas more often.” – Matthew A/L Kumar

“When I heard that we will be going for the cleanup, I was pretty bummed about the trip as I knew it was going to be hot and tiring. However, on the actual cleanup, due to my stomach upset, I was unable to help with the picking up of trash and was instead assigned to help weighing and loading the trash. It gave me time to chat with some of the assistants which made me realise such cleanups are important as the amount of trash has been increasing each year. Thus my initial view changed and I now feel that such cleanups are very meaningful.” – Ong Qian Wei

“I felt that the cleanup of the mangrove is a once in a lifetime experience and this trip also made me realise the importance of decreasing the amount of pollution, as this will greatly affect the animals’ natural habitats and it will spoil the natural beauty of the environment. I am glad that ICCS provided my schoolmates and I a chance to experience and learn more about our natural environment. After the cleanup, I felt that I contributed in my own way and I am proud of myself. I hope that there will be more of such learning journeys” – Cheong Wee Kee

– Chua Yi Teng, Biology teacher, Woodlands Ring Secondary School.