The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) turns the spotlight on children and youth with the launch of the "Children Writing for Children" story writing workshop to highlight their role and capacity for advocacy, communication, and commitment to protect and conserve biodiversity.

In celebration of the first International Year of Caves and Karst, the DENR—through the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) —launched the story writing workshop to provide a platform for children to raise their views and voices in environmental processes and decision-making through storytelling.

"The endeavor is one of the DENR’s programs to educate children about the environment, the issues that surround them, and their care and protection. All these will help bring about behavior change," DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

"Someday, these children will inherit our world. They will inherit our natural resources and our environment. It is important that we impart the value of conservation at a young age to make them responsible stewards of creation," he also said.

A total of 12 students, aged 8 to 11, were chosen to take part in the creative writing workshop held via Zoom platform on November 15-19, 2021.

Under the guidance of Mark Norman Boquiren, a children’s book author and staff of the DENR-BMB, the participants crafted their original stories about caves and karst ecosystems.

On the last day of the workshop, they narrated and showcased their stories live on Zoom and Facebook.

Three students were recognized with the "Best Story," "Best Storyteller," and "Most Participative" awards. All participants were awarded certificates.

Kulaknit’s Monstrous Friend by Bettina Frances B. Fernandez of Catarman, Northern Samar won the Best Story; Ma. Anjenica Anne S. Navarro of Bulacan bagged the Best Storyteller Award and John Vincent C. Cinco of Albay was named Most Participative.

The activity aimed to provide a meaningful opportunity for children and youth to understand, participate, and act for caves and karst ecosystems.

A cave is a large, naturally occurring cavity formed underground or in cliffs or hillsides, while karst is a type of land formation, usually with many caves formed through the dissolving of limestone by underground drainage and created by the dissolution of bedrock.

DENR-BMB Director Datu Tungko Saikol said that the workshop "emphasized the role of children as writers and storytellers in disseminating awareness about the importance of caves, karst, and other related ecosystems."

"Children storytellers can help amplify our voices and efforts in saving these precious ecosystems from peril. Their stories can make a difference for other children to be familiar with them," Saikol said.

According to Saikol, the event is "timely for the celebration of the International Year of Caves and Karst, which aims to raise the level of understanding and respect for these ecosystems as globally important physical, ecological, and cultural systems."

With the theme, "Explore, Understand, and Protect," the International Year of Caves and Karst was organized by the International Union of Speleology, a global organization of caves and karst explorers, scientists, managers, and educators. ###