The grey-bellied comet (Taphrolesbia griseiventris) is a species of hummingbird that is endemic to a handful of areas within Peru and is in danger of extinction due to habitat loss. Creative Action Institute’s partner Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) works to restore forests that are critical to the grey-bellied comet and many other species and to educate and engage children and parents on this rare species. After attending a Creative Leadership workshop in March and participating in coaching calls, ECOAN leader Adrian Torres applied tools he learned at the workshop and through coaching calls to develop a series of activities to engage 55 students and 25 adults as agents of change.
Using photographs to share the importance of forests for humans and birds globally and locally, Adrian used Creative Action Institute’s Art Code process as well as World Café and Problem Tree/Solution Tree to start the conversation in two communities that are home to the grey-bellied comet. He then engaged students in arts-based activities to engage students more deeply:
Creating a hummingbird pinwheel and coloring sheet to think about what the grey-bellied comet looks like and why they have particular features
Giant drawings to analyze what features in their communities and forest are critical to the bird, threats to this habitat, and solutions and actions to prevent the threats
He engaged parents in a deeper conservation on reforestation and parents participated in planting native plants that the grey-bellied comets are attracted to in front of the schools. Adrian notes that this work helped to develop a stronger relationship with the parents which has helped them have more sites where they can plant native species that are important to the hummingbirds.
Adrian reports, “We have previously done informative talks in these schools, but this was the first time that we used fun and artistic tools to advance the objectives of the workshop. The interest generated by it was high! Not only the children, but the parents and teachers were very motivated to participate in the restoration project that we just started last year in that zone. Through their engagement in the workshops, the participants were very open to continue contributing information about the species that live in the sub-tropical forests and with ideas of places that are better for the plantings.”
These workshops truly sparked the engagement of students, parents and teachers. Beyond the direct result of 55 students and 25 parents have increased their commitment to conservation, the groundwork has been set for further action. ECOAN will work with the school to develop and environmental education festival that focuses on the grey-bellied comet and incorporates the arts. One of the teachers suggested developing a story about the hummingbird that the children could personalize. Additionally, they have plans to replicate this series of activities in additional schools and with a focus on other endangered species.