One student's belief in the United Nations' Global Goals for Sustainable Development resulted in a unique learning experience for students at four Saskatoon Public Schools' elementary schools.
Inspired by a commitment to share the importance of the goals with others, Sumaya Murabit, a Grade 7 student at Roland Michener School, initiated a poster contest for public school students during the 2015-16 school year as a way to bring local awareness to a global initiative.
"As a student, I noticed there was not a lot of local awareness about the UN Global Goals, even though our government has really focused on them and prioritized them. I knew there was something I could do about that. This is why, to increase awareness of the UN Global Goals, I organized a city-wide public school poster challenge," Sumaya told the Board of Education during its Oct. 11 meeting
"Students in Grade 6-8 had the opportunity to design a poster which answered the question: What does the sustainable development goals mean to you? We had incredible posters and our judges included a university professor, a radio host and even the UN."
The learning opportunity was embraced by students from Murabit's home school as well as those from Greystone Heights, Prince Philip and Forest Grove. It was an opportunity to share their learning about the importance of sustainability and the role the global goals could play in tackling issues such as extreme poverty, inequality and climate change. Each of the 17 global goals has specific targets to be achieved during the next 15 years.
The poster contest was won by Rianna Kish, another Grade 7 student at Roland Michener, who applied her interest in oceans and undersea creatures to create a poster on Goal No. 14 – Life Below Water.
"I feel very passionate about this goal because I have always had a love for the ocean and the underwater creatures have always been my favourite," Rianna said. "When I found out there was a way I could spread more awareness about saving our world's oceans and animals I was ecstatic.
"After reading how much damage has been done to our seas I thought it was even more important to get the word out to stop polluting our waters. Through the global goals project I was able to show classes at my school the poster and even some of my aunts and uncles and grandparents came to look. I am very grateful I was able to participate in the competition last year. It has impacted me hugely and I hope that other participants in the future feel the same."
The project received important support from Sumaya's sister, Dr. Alaa Murabit, a United Nations High Level Commissioner on Health and Employment and one of the advocates for the Global Sustainable Development Goals. A video from Ambassador Thomas Gass, the United Nations' assistant secretary-general, praised students' initiative and thanked them for their role in building awareness of the goals.
Jeff Shepherd, principal of Roland Michener School, said the poster contest provided a significant learning opportunity for his students and those from the three other schools that participated. Sumaya's initiative in reaching out to community leaders and the support of her family played important roles in the success of the event and in providing students with the opportunity to encourage change and share the importance of the global goals.
"This student-led initiative is something our entire school community is very proud of," Shepherd said. "It demonstrates the power of ideas, motivation, passion and risk taking."
More information on the 17 goals is available on The Global Goals for Sustainable Development website.