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Children plant trees in the new garden of the Zhiquan School in Beijing's Changping district in April. Most students of the school are children of migrant workers. [Photo/China Daily]
More children from migrant worker families in Beijing will enjoy a small green world in their schools thanks to public efforts.
Friends of Nature, a non-governmental organization, started a program in 2009 to help build gardens in schools where most students are children of migrant workers.
The construction of a 200-square-meter garden in Xingzhi School in the Daxing district was finished in May.
The organization plans to build gardens in two more schools, Hu Huizhe, a division head in charge of education issues with Friends of Nature, said on Sunday during an event to promote the program.
"Every child longs for a place where nature can be touched and that is full of flowers and grass. But many schools in Beijing, especially in the outskirts, are surrounded by warehouses and factories. And in the schools, there are only gray playgrounds, single-story classrooms, and no green landscape," Hu said.
The Xingzhi School in the Daxing district was privately founded in 2001, and all its 700 students are children of migrant workers. The school changed its location five because of funding shortages, but through social support, its facilities have been improving.
Huang Man, a 10-year-old student at Xingzhi School who comes from Central China's Henan province, likes the garden.
"We used to play in the playground, but that's so boring. Now, my classmates and I can look at flowers in the garden during the breaks. It's beautiful," she said.
"I planted two trees in the garden, and I regularly water them. I feel I have a responsibility for their growth," said Li Xiaoxiao, 12, a grade four student at the school.
"The garden has added vitality to our school, and it has helped stimulate the students' awareness of loving nature," said Shen Guixiang, Xingzhi School principal. "Students volunteer to water flowers and grass in the garden."
Mu Danfeng, from Friends of Nature, who is in charge of the program, said making such gardens not only helps improve schools' facilities, it brings the public in contact with the school and makes people aware of the difficulties of those schools and the real needs of students.
Mu said that in addition to the full participation of students and teachers in planting and caring for the gardens, Friends of Nature has mobilized volunteers to interact with students in gardening activities and environmental protection education courses.
Gao Jian, a post-graduate landscape architecture student at Peking University, and designer of the Xingzhi School garden, said the garden is more just flowers and grass, it improves the school.
"Maybe we'll plant vegetables or trees there later," he said. "The garden is the fruit of public support and a platform for teaching environmental protection, too."
As the first environmental non-governmental organization recognized by the authorities, Friends of Nature was founded in Beijing in 1994 by Chinese historian Liang Congjie (1932-2010).