On Saturday 9 February, a visitor to City Park would have been surprised at teams of excited school children from Premier Academy and City Primary running from place to place in the park. Every so often the children stop and consult their maps. Are they going in the right direction? An argument arises, but is quickly resolved when a decision is made and off they go again at high speed.
The children are on a Treasure Hunt – a game in which players try to find hidden items or places by using a series of clues. To get the clues the children had to complete a series of tasks. The visitor would have heard the children perform songs at the Bandstand, draw pictures in the meadow and make replicas of the statues at the Murumbi Memorial Sculpture Garden. If the visitor had listened closely they would have also heard the children respond to questions about the history and natural history of the park. The visitor would have learned a great deal about what City Park has to offer Nairobi residents.
Friends of City Park held the Treasure Hunt for Nairobi Primary Schools with the aim of teaching children about the large variety of things there are to do at City Park, while developing their ability to solve problems, find things on a map, participate as a team and engage with nature. The organizers also hoped that the children and their teachers would learn about the problems that long threatened the park and its educational opportunities.
Friends of City Park, a voluntary group operating under the aegis of Nature Kenya formed in 1996, and has been at the vanguard of the efforts to preserve the park for the citizens of Nairobi and future generations. Their work resulted in a national milestone in September 2009 when 60 hectares of the City Park was gazetted as a National Monument under the Government of Kenya’s National Museums and Heritage Act (No 6 of 2006), thus preserving almost all the park for all Kenyans.
An amazing amount of preparation was required to ensure that both the children and the many volunteers who helped make the day a success, enjoyed the day and the challenge. Just in case of any mishap Guru Nanak Hospital had an ambulance and nurse at the park.
Two schools, Nairobi City Primary and Premier Academy, sent two teams each with their teachers. The children had competed to be on the teams by writing exemplary essays on the importance of nature. The super excited children proved very adept at map reading and were quick to find the clues which lead them to activities such as sculpting at the Murumbi Memorial, learning about Kenya’s independence struggle, learning about the trees and plants in the park and finding their way through the deep forest. The hunt ended with certificates and prize giving and refreshments. Though the refreshments had to be protected from the numerous monkeys!
The children said it was an adventure where they explored new things. Some have been asking their teachers when can they come back to City Park!
Get in touch if you are interested in your school participating in a future Treasure Hunt: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Baldip Khan and Bettina Ng’weno