G12 students took back the street next to the school. They planned 3 actions: constructing a sidewalk to make the street safer; organizing an annual Green street festival in collaboration with the municipality; and guaranteeing its sustainability.
Due to the lack of space in the school area, Grade 12 students spent long hours brainstorming efficient actions to take. Many ideas and concerns were discussed during brainstorming. First, students were concerned about noise pollution generated by excessive traffic around the school. Second, they were worried about the risk of pedestrian safety around the school. Third, students discussed the lack of public or open spaces in the school area for people to enjoy the outdoors. The need for green spaces to spend quality time during recess or free time during any school day was placed among the top priorities. The Arabic teacher asked the students to make an assessment with their parents in order to choose the priority. Students returned after the winter vacation with the conviction that they have to encourage the social use of the street. Even the parents were not pleased by the unsafe mobility and complained about the misuse of the streets around the school.
The word translated as “living street” was chosen to create a new concept for the streets next to the school. The idea of creating a covered sidewalk was pitched during workshops with KUNHADI, NGO for road safety in Lebanon. The students also had many workshops with the French and English teachers to analyze safety posters and watch mobility videos. Furthermore, they had many sessions with the head of the pedagogy department during which they screened Your Ideas Your Initiatives resources. A lot of discussions took place which led to the clarification of the need to take back the street next to the school. It was decided to organize a yearly event to raise awareness concerning this issue. Blocking off streets so children can play during certain times of the month was the main objective. In the absence of public playgrounds, children are going to play in the streets.
Grade 12 students then decided to go to the next level with their ideas. They aimed to transform the experience of the street.
A committee of Grade 12 students made an action plan and began to prepare the visuals to launch the campaign. They called themselves LIVE LOVE ELYSEE.
First, they helped bring about the construction of a sidewalk on the school street to make it safer for students and parents on a daily basis. This idea was launched by writing and sending an official letter to the mayor, accompanied by some pictures of youngsters circulating on the street in-between cars. The municipality sent a civil engineer on-site to study the field and take measurements. Then a meeting was held in the municipality with the mayor, the site engineer, a teacher and two student representatives to check the different designs for the sidewalk. A decision for construction of a sidewalk was agreed upon; it would help children and parents arrive and depart safely to and from the school entrance.
However, the main problem was not solved. The misuse of the street was still there. After much research and workshops with street experts, the students chose an action that would guarantee the sustainability of this project:
The students organized an annual street festival, Green Fest, which was first held in June, 2016. The idea was to transform the street adjacent to the school into an area that people can occupy and enjoy without the hassle of cars. Green Fest 2016 included specified space for local restaurants and live entertainment stations. Students set up stands displaying their eco-friendly creative work. Live stations run by students gave a special touch to the event. This event boosted the idea of “Parking Day”, a green day where the streets turned into a place where people can enjoy themselves and make a statement that the streets are for people and not only for vehicles. Grade 12 students transformed it into an annual tradition to be organized and implemented by each Grade 12 class.
To guarantee its sustainability and to spread this idea further, Grade 12 students addressed the Municipality of Hazmieh one more time to make the project sustainable. Promotional posters designed by the students were posted on the school buses. Green Fest led to transforming the street adjacent to the school to become a people friendly area without the fear of passing cars, every Sunday, all year round. Green Fest has become a tradition! Every year the school will close the street for a GREEN FESTIVAL and every Sunday of every month a part of this street will be open for everyone! Green Fest 2017 is loading! After the success of the three events mentioned above, the municipality of Hazmieh has realized how trustworthy the Elysée’s students are, and will support future events.
The school received two rewards for the idea: One from E-Eco solutions and another one from a local humanitarian NGO, Donner sans compter. The feedback from the partners was tremendous. All the local NGOs that participated were happy with the operation and the communication which took place throughout the event. Partners of the event shared posts on social media, as well as many visitors who posted their pictures with the hashtag #greenfest. Younger students, parents and even teachers were amazed by the results which changed their opinion that it was going to be just another school festival. They didn’t expect it would be such a huge success. This green concept was well implemented. Grade 12 students 2015-2016 graduated proudly last year because they knew they had left a beautiful trace behind at their school. They also created beautiful memories and learned how to solve issues beyond the walls of their classroom. They learned how to work together and knew that they can be active learners and not simply passive passengers in their community. Our students expressed themselves on the 30th of April, when the municipality launched Open Streets every Sunday of the month. They said they wished that this kind of project had been initiated earlier, to direct younger students to community thinking and lead them to make their daily lives much better.