Earth Day to be celebrated with virtual video contests for students

Photo credit: Columbia University

Thanks to the internet and social media platforms, work is still on going for many institutions and organisations in the midst of the worldwide lockdown following the COVID 19 pandemic. The lockdown has been necessitated by the nature of its spread from person to person at a very close interval.

Therefore, all international, national or local events involving gatherings, including the observance of global Days are either canceled or postponed.

Information technology is ensuring that global Days like the Earth Day, can still be observed in grand style. In Ghana, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this year on the theme: “Climate Action,” a three level virtual video contests have been instituted for students. The contests are open to Junior High, Senior High and Undergraduate University Students living in Ghana.

The contests are being organized by the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change Program (WA BiCC) in partnership with the Ghana Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, A Rocha Ghana, a biodiversity focused NGO and Kali Etch, a schools environmental awareness creation focused group. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is sponsoring this activity.

A press statement issued in Accra by, WA BiCC’s Communication Manager, Chaz Kyser, to announce the contests said, “home-schooled students are also eligible to participate in the contests, which run from now to April 14.” It outlined the modalities for participating in the contests at each level.

At the Junior High School (JHS) level, Students are to submit a 30-second to 1-minute video in which they answer the question: “What environmental problem are you most concerned about and what is the most important thing people can do to address it?

While, Senior High School (SHS) students will submit a 1 to 2-minute video featuring the student singing a song, reciting a poem, or rapping to educate people about why protecting the earth’s forests and other natural resources are important to help combat climate change.

Then, Undergraduate Students are to submit a 4 to 6- minute video that demonstrates “3 Ways Ghana Can Become a Leader in Addressing Climate Change.”

The statement explained that contestants will be judged at the JHS level on students’ poise and diction, their explanation of the environmental challenge, and the effectiveness of the strategy they provide to address the environmental challenge.

Entrants at the SHS level will be judged on students’ creativity and the effectiveness of linking forest conservation to climate change. While, undergraduate competitors will be judged on the students’ poise, diction, persuasiveness and the soundness of their arguments.

According to the statement the award package includes an electronic prize such as a camera or phone with video capabilities for the first, second, and third-place winners. Then, all first place winners will additionally have the opportunity to meet and have a photo taken with a high-ranking member of the U.S. Embassy, when schools reopen.

It highlighted the rationale for this year’s event: “This year’s Earth Day contests and campaigns, are entirely digital and supports the current government-issued pandemic lockdown rules and health regulations.”

It further explained the concept from the perspective of WA BiCC’s Chief of Party, Stephen Kelleher. “WA BiCC has worked creatively and strategically to promote Earth Day amid the current social distance regulations aimed at safeguarding the public. We hope that while students are at home with their families, these contests give them a chance to step back and creatively think about how we can all work together to ensure Earth remains the beautiful and magical home that we all share.”

The statement cautioned the students that in making the videos, they should adhere to the current lockdown rules of the government and strictly follow the entrance instruction, so they are not disqualified. “In the making of the video, students must not travel away from their home, nor receive in-person assistance from those living outside their home, or include any other person in the video. Students who violate the above restrictions/guidelines will be disqualified.”

Interested students are encouraged to submit their videos from now until April 14. They can also visit for further details.

Earth Day is celebrated annually worldwide to promote clean living and a healthy, sustainable habitat for people and wildlife on Earth.  This theme highlights the negative impact that changing environments and climates have on the future of humanity.

This year’s Earth Day is being observed at a time when COVID 19, has completely altered many global activities that involved gathering of people and creating of crowds. Therefore, for the first time in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, for example, the Pope had had to do the unthinkable – holding a solo Easter Good Friday Mass without the usual multitudes, except for his assistant.

This has become the fate of all global activities scheduled to take place after COVID 19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Consequently, the observance of international Days that were to take place in March such as World Water Day on March 22nd, happened with just the issuance of statements and without the usual pomp.

The UN instituted such Days to among other things, raise awareness about the importance of natural resources that sustain life on earth, and the need to sustainably use and protect them.

From the look of things, until the coronavirus is well contained globally and its devastation on human life ceases, the new trend of celebration of Days will continue in like manner. So, for now, welcome to the era of celebration of International Days, with mere issuing of statements or innovative virtual events.

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