Students of the Bal Vikas Program run by volunteers at Shirdi Sai Sansthan Melbourne Inc., have been learning recently about reducing single use plastic waste.
They’ll rattle off the 5 Rs, which they assure you they practice in their own lives:
REFUSE to purchase plastic products.
REDUCE reliance on plastic products.
REUSE, REPURPOSE and REPAIR existing items.
RETHINK consumption habits.
RECYCLE as a final resort!
They’ll tell you the top five tips they’ve learnt to help minimise reliance on and consumption of single use plastics:
- Use a thermos or a reusable cup when ordering coffee.
- Take your own reusable shopping bags to the supermarket or shops.
- Take your own drink bottle when you’re on the go and fill up at home.
- Use glass or reusable plastic containers to store food rather than single-use plastic containers, bags or wraps.
- Recycle plastics correctly so that they can be reused or repurposed for future additional use.
They know that single use plastics are a major contributor to environmental pollution, that plastics make up approximately a third of the litter in Victoria, and that when plastics enter landfill, it takes hundreds of years (depending on the type of plastic) to decompose.
They’re also aware that from 1 February 2023, single use plastics will be banned from sale or supply in Victoria.
This is but one of the many activities at the Bal Vikas Program at Shirdi Sai Sansthan Melbourne Inc.
The program offers children aged between 4 and 18 years the opportunity to engage in interactive classes designed to build good character and lead a morally conscious life.
Classes run every Sunday during school term at the Temple and are offered free to parents who are keen to help their child practice love, truth, peace, right conduct and non-violence.
“I’m saying no to single use plastics,” 13-year-old Rushil, a long-time participant, tells Indian Link.
“Me too,” says Shanaya, 9.
When they say this, both are embodying the very spirit of the Bal Vikas program: as a Sanskrit phrase which means blossoming of child, one of the primary aims here is to restore dharma (right action) in the world.
“I love the activities and the interaction with others,” Rushil adds. “I think all should try it.”
Reyansh, 6, enjoys the weekly program. “I like the stories my teacher tells,” he says. “I like coming to Bal Vikas. We do pooja and aarti for Sai Baba and also meditation and chanting.”
Teaching our little ones moral values is just as important as teaching them to read, write and do arithmetic. Activity-based learning, such as the kind the Bal Vikas program embraces, has been proven to be effective in helping them understand and explore their moral compass and guide them to recognise the difference between the good and the bad.
Rita Singh, active volunteer and teacher of the Bal Vikas Program, notes, “Our intention is to supplement school-based instruction with activities to bolster moral development, and in a manner that resonates with their life in contemporary times.”
Paresh Valob, President of Shirdi Sai Sansthan Melbourne Inc., chimes in, “Children can be heavily influenced in many ways through social media and peer pressures at school. It is important to recalibrate their understanding to help them practice their moral values correctly.”
Techniques used in the Bal Vikas program include meditation; shlokas and bhajans; stories based on moral values; regular group activities such as projects, presentations, choral and dramas; and, annual activities such as tree planting, sports day and musical celebration.
The program has been run in Camberwell since 2016.
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