Never under estimate the power of a good story book.
Cummins Filtration employees in Africa are using story books to address two global priority areas for the Company’s Corporate Responsibility program – education and the environment.
Working with other Cummins’ employees on the continent, they are helping thousands of students improve their reading skills while raising awareness about the importance of environmental conservation. By working with schools that lack resources, this project is also addressing Cummins’ third global priority – social justice/equality of opportunity.
“My favorite part of this project is being able to give something back to these children, to really get an understanding of what these young children are thinking and feeling, and to be able to show that there are still businesses who care,” said Stephen Burrow, co-leader of the project with Ashie Singh, who was leading Filtration’s South Africa Community Involvement Team (CIT) when the initiative was launched in 2012.
“I was a teacher, so it was good to get back into the classroom,” added Burrow, Sales and Marketing Manager for Cummins Filtration in South Africa.
The Filtration CIT’s project is built around a simple, but powerful concept. After identifying story books with the appropriate content, Cummins employees are going into schools and reading the books to students 6 to 10 years-old.
They ask questions designed to check the students understanding, and make up songs and catch-phrases to help children remember key messages from each book. The children also draw posters about the stories they hear to demonstrate their understanding.
The project was one of 15 winners in Cummins’ 2012 Environmental Challenge. Under the Challenge, the Company’s more than 200 Community Involvement Teams compete to develop the best environmental projects of the year. The winners receive $10,000 grants for the not-for-profit group of their choice.
“Currently we have reached approximately 6,800 students in South Africa and 600 in Kenya,” Burrow said of the project. “We are planning this year for these books to be read to an additional 400 children in Senegal, 500 children in Nigeria and 400 in Morocco thanks to the books having been translated into French and Arabic as well.”
Burrow said the readings have been very effective.
“We highlight that if each of us turn taps off properly, pick up some litter and switch lights off when we leave a room, we can all make a difference,” he said. “Furthermore, to be able to leave this resource behind, enabling the next generation of students to be able to access quality, meaningful reading material, is really a special privilege.”
While the project was a 2012 Challenge winner it continues to grow today in new and interesting ways.
“These projects have opened the door for us to engage further, by doing a limited roll out of sustainable vegetable gardens for feeding schemes and water conservation projects in a number of these schools,” Burrow said. “So the opportunity for learning will continue.”
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