“Our younger generation are the future and it’s up to us to educate and motivate them to instil change in the world around them,” says Keren Rego, teacher of Point Chevalier School’s fair-trade class. Rego speaks from the heart – her own upbringing fostered her passion for sustainability at a young age. “As I child I was encouraged to take social action in regards to human rights, animal welfare, living sustainably and treating our planet and its people with respect,” Rego explains. It’s these same ethical values that have been with Rego since she was a child that the primary school teacher is dedicated to sharing with her family, friends, students and school community. “It has become a life-long commitment and journey that I’m deeply passionate about,” she says.
During the school year Rego devotes her time to teaching her students the fundamental principles of fair trade, with the goal of helping them to develop an understanding of the positive impact conscious consumers can have on the world. Fair trade bananas are the initial focus for Rego’s class: “They’re loved and eaten by Kiwi kids, so if I can equip my students with some persuasive arguments as to why their families should be buying fair trade bananas they become advocates for supporting all fair trade farmers.”
Rego explains that the same logic can then be applied to learning about a range of fair trade products, including chocolate, soft drinks, coffee, tea and even footballs. “My students want children all over the world to have the opportunity to go to school and have fun. Understanding that when you buy fair trade, children are not allowed to work on the farm or in the factory is a huge win-win for the students.”
Once students step outside of the classroom Rego says they’re eager to share their newfound knowledge and she’s enthusiastic about the influence her students are having on their families. “It’s exciting to see children talking to their families about sustainable issues. I’ve had grandparents come up to me in the playground saying they had never heard of fair trade before, but now they’re learning things from their grandchildren and they love it!”