Omoa is a coastal community situated in the northern region of Honduras along the Gulf shared with Belize and Guatemala. Local youth had noticed a growing problem of plastic waste pollution, originating both locally and from marine currents, especially those influenced by the Motagua River. Given the importance of both the river and marine areas for both freshwater and livelihoods such as fishing and tourism, plastic pollution has the potential to make a significant impact on the community of Omoa and the people who live there. A group of youth working with Environmental Law Institute of Honduras (IDAMHO) and Creative Action Institute, utilized creative advocacy practices to ignite environmental awareness among the local population.
The group of ninth-grade students from the Abraham Riera Peña School, along with community members, participated in a Creative Advocacy Practicum, a series of activities designed to stimulate creative thinking and to spark dialogue and introspection. Participants delved into the detrimental effects of plastic pollution, analyzing its root causes and exploring related issues such as air pollution, oil spills, deforestation, and drought, and brainstorming viable solutions.
With this in mind, participants decided to use a mural to capture their perception of the impact of addressing plastic pollution versus letting the issue continue unmitigated. Divided into two distinct parts, the mural depicted an idyllic world abundant with life, flourishing flora, tranquility, and peace, contrasted with the stark reality of contamination and its consequences. Guided by a local artist, the students translated their ideas and sketches onto the mural, infusing it with their creative vision.
The workshop fostered a sense of environmental consciousness among the students, leading them to pledge behavioral changes such as refraining from littering and actively reducing their plastic consumption. Before sharing the mural with the broader community, workshop participants shared key takeaways, personal connections to the subject matter, and practical actions they intended to implement in their lives.
Reflecting on the workshop's significance, one participant remarked, "It made me sad to know that some people do not place importance on the issue of environmental pollution. For me, it is something important because it is for our own good." This sentiment echoed the collective concern of the participants, highlighting the urgency of environmental stewardship and the need for broader community engagement.
Other participants felt empowered by the creative process, including one who shared,
"I am interested in the way we developed our creativity and how we created a mural based on questions and possible solutions to the problem of environmental pollution in our communities."
Another participant expressed their enthusiasm, stating, "A girl from the group shared how to make compost, and I liked that information a lot because I can apply it and share it with my family." This exchange of knowledge and the desire to implement sustainable practices exemplified the workshop's impact on individual participants.
To raise awareness more broadly about the importance of environmental conservation, IDAMHO organized a public event where key decision-makers and allies, including the municipal mayor, were invited. Broadcast on local news networks, the event provided an opportunity to emphasize the significance of ongoing collaboration in driving environmental initiatives. The mayor publicly committed to support future projects to promote environmental awareness.
As a testament to this commitment, plans were set in motion to create another mural on the school wall, serving as a reminder and a call to action for environmental responsibility within the Omoa community. This collaboration between IDAMHO, Creative Action Institute, and local stakeholders exemplified the power of creative advocacy and group action in cultivating environmental consciousness and driving positive change.
Learn more about this Creative Advocacy Practicum here.