December 13, 2010 – Playa del Carmen, Mexico – On Sunday, December 5, 2010, parents and children from all across the Riviera Maya and as far away as Mexico City gathered together at Ak Lu’um International School in Playa del Carmen, to participate in the 1st annual Family Eco-Challenge, a contest which invited families to design and build a unique toy or game that encourages play without doing harm to the environment. Each of the 28 submissions, constructed using organic materials, materials from sustainable sources and/or recycled objects, was evaluated by an expert panel of invited guests and judged in several categories: most original, most ecological, most durable and most beautiful. The grand prize, a full year scholarship to Ak Lu’um International School, was awarded to the Marentes Macías family for their free-standing drum kit made entirely from found and recycled objects.
“This first Eco Challenge was a bit of an experiment,” remarked school leader and event organizer Siobhan Bowers. “The thought and creativity that each family put into their toy was inspiring. The interest and support from not only the local community but also from National and International organizations has been tremendous.” Sitting on the panel of judges were environmental and educational officers from the Municipal Government of Solidaridad, program directors from Flora, Fauna y Cultura de Mexico A.C. and delegates from the COP16 Climate Change Summit in Cancun, representing El Salvador, Guatemala and Cuba.
The members of the organizing committee are already making plans for next year. Delegates from Cuba, delighted with the event, are considering a similar contest to be conducted in parallel with Eco Challenge 2011. Event organizers hope to inspire other nations to do the same, encouraging families across the globe to “Think Green”.
Ak Lu’um International School is a Waldorf Initiative founded in 2006 in the jungle close to Playa del Carmen. The main aims are to promote sustainability, develop ecological awareness and teach children from 2 to 12 to reconnect with our earth. Students at Ak Lu’um learn with their minds, hearts and hands. The curriculum is academically challenging and meaningful with many opportunities for hands-on learning and artistic development. Ak Lu’um also welcomes children with special needs and seeks to integrate them fully, giving all children an opportunity to better know, understand and love fellow human beings. The community at Ak Lu’um International School is bilingual (English-Spanish) and culturally rich with over 10 nationalities represented by staff and pupils.