Young Nature Leadership: Building of a Green Wall

Image of Mathilde Papillon

Mathilde Papillon

This blog was written by Young Leader Grant recipient Mathilde Papillon.

On August 24, 2017, a beautiful, vibrant green wall was completed in a public high school located in Ottawa, Ontario. And it would not have been possible without Nature Canada and its Women for Nature members’ generous support.

Indeed, I had been awarded earlier in the year Women for Nature’s Young Leader Grant. As co-founder of PAPLEN Education for Eco-sustainability, I am dedicated to help promote hands-on environmental education in high schools across Canada. Since 2016, PAPLEN has partnered with a variety of local environmental organizations as well as school boards to make this happen.

Image of a green wall

Mathilde (second from the left) who lead with her classmates on this project.

The Young Leader Grant was instrumental in bringing to life our most recent initiative, a fully automated, 42-plant, ecologically diverse indoor green wall. I fundamentally believe that exposure to nature in our everyday lives is crucial to environmental awareness, acting as a building block to shaping eco-responsible citizenship. Appreciating and caring for nature starts by seeing it all around us. The importance of this step especially true for high school students that barely see the light of day during school hours, and even less flora. Located in a busy hallway of the school, it is estimated that at least three to four hundred students will walk by the plants every day.

On a more practical level, this green wall will be used as an educational tool in grade nine and ten science classes, as well as upper-level biology classes. During the conception of the project, we consulted the science teachers in order to equip the wall with plants showcasing a diversity of biological processes. Another exciting benefit of this initiative pertains to students’ mental health. Indeed, extensive research shows that exposure to green life in our day-to-day routine is highly beneficial for mental health, decreasing risk of depression and acting as a deterrent for anxiety.

While funding for the project came from a variety of sources (it took a little over two years to raise!), the Women for Nature grant is entirely responsible for the actual plants on the wall. As such, I am very grateful for this wonderful opportunity and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the high school’s 1,400-student population will appreciate it just as much for years to come. Thank you Nature Canada and Women for Nature!Image of the Women for Nature logo

Stay tuned for the online link to the episode that TFO (Franco-Ontarian television channel) filmed on the day PAPLEN completed this project.

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