ASRI Kids is the brainchild of a collaboration between Health In Harmony, ASRI, and a family who volunteered with the ASRI clinic in the summer of 2011. After becoming friends with the local kids, teenagers Lucia and Ana Sofia Amieva-Wang realized that most of the children had never visited Gunung Palung, the local National Park. With the goal to educate local children about forest stewardship and provide them with the opportunity to visit pristine rain forest ecosystems, “ASRI Kids” was born.
In June 2012, the inaugural session of ASRI Kids took place with classes of 20-25 boys and girls, ages 4 – 19, who attended classes about forest importance, global biodiversity, tree planting and care, trash and proper disposal, basic hygiene, and sustainable wood harvesting. The program continues to grow each year, now with hundreds of kids involved in the program. ASRI Kids also have the opportunity to visit a sustainable farm and a reforestation site on class field-trips.
Guest speakers provide the children with an opportunity to ask specific questions to Indonesian researchers and experts in the field of environmental conservation. The best students in each class take a summer trip to Tanjung Puting, an orangutan reserve in Central Kalimantan. Many of the children have never been on an airplane or seen orangutans up close, even though they live in villages bordering the rain forest. This trip is certainly a highlight for all the students who earn a spot.
ASRI Kids has created a way for children to grow up with a profound understanding of the rain forest biology in their backyard and the importance of ecological stewardship. It has also led to a greater awareness of the world, and even encourages kids to think about careers they would never otherwise consider.
*Photo credit: Chelsea Call