On may 17th, on the shore of the canal that connects the rivers Kamenka and Glukharka in the Yuntolovskiy zakaznik, took place the tenth international youth River Festival. Friends of the Baltic and our cooperation partners organize the festival every year near different rivers of Saitn Peterburg within the framework of the program “River Watch” (in cooperation with the Coalition Clean Baltic). This year, twenty-two groups of schoolchildren from the city and its surroundings took part in the event.
The event started at the Children’s Creativity Center of the Primorsky District with the opening words of the organizers and the introduction of the groups and their group names. The participants carried the River Belt in. The River Belt consists of strips of fabric sewn together, and each strip represents a different river. The children had made their own strips for the Belt beforehand – each year the Belt lengthens with two or three new pieces. They use scraps of newspaper, their own drawings and photographs. Over 30 rivers and creeks are already illustrated in the River Belt: Karasta, Kipenka, Izhora, Prozrachnaya, Kikenka, Kamenka, Krasnenkaya, Gryaznorechka, Neva, Ivanovka, Kuzmnka, Bistrica, Chernaya, Ivanovka, Starozhilovka, Popovka, Zhdanovka, and many others.
After the opening ceremonies were over, all the participants went straight to the canal between Kamenka and Glukharkova rivers to start the activities at the ecological stations, which the teachers of the Children’s Creative Center of the Primorsky District, school number 583, secondary school 389 and Friends of the Baltic had put together.
There were altogether eleven stations, each of which was both educational and entertaining. The stations featured a wide range of information about river research methods and the area’s natural values. They also offered simple solutions for protecting the natural river ecosystems and the Baltic Sea. At the station “Aquatic invertebrates”, the children learned about different organisms that live in the water and these organisms’ reactions to changes in water quality. At the station “Soil Science”, children had the chance to perform real laboratory work to define the soil fertility near the water system. At the station “Hydrochemistry”, children were taught how to use different equipment to measure concentrations of harmful substances in the water. At the station “Who lives in the zakaznik”, the teams tried to identify the footprints of different forest animals. And at the station of “Friends of the Baltic”, they learned what phosphates are and how they affect the Baltic Sea, what is the meaning of eutrophication and how we can protect the Baltic Sea from polluting. The children astonished us with their knowledge and familiarity with the current problems of the water areas of Saint Peterburg and Leningrad Oblast, not to mention their commitment to take personal action towards finding solutions to these problems.
After the tasks at the stations were completed, it was time for the closing part of the festival. Now the teams gave their own creative presentations on ecological themes, concentrating especially on the value of water resources. Once again, the young scholars surprised us with their devotion and imagination: the team “Biotopes” had prepared a show with Latin dance and self-made poems about the value of water and protecting the environment, and the children from the Children’s Creative Center of the Primorsky District sang songs with the accordion, dedicated to the River Festival. At the end of the event, all the teams and the organizers received little prizes from the Friends of the Baltic – brochures, booklets and DVD’s with information about the natural values of the Baltic and the Gulf of Finland and about the different green solutions to protect nature.
Friends of the Baltic have organized the River Festival with their cooperation partners every year since 2005. The festival takes place on the shores of different rivers of Saint Peterburg and adding the rivers to the River Belt is an essential part of the event. The festival works well for giving environmental education, and it also helps to draw public attention to the problems we have at our region and to the fact, that we absolutely have to protect nature. Water is life – protect our lives! Protect our Baltic Sea!