Excitement filled Phuket International Academy’s library on 5 February as students listened to visiting author and environmentalist Kenny Peavy spread the message of his book The Box People, encouraging people to get outside and reconnect with nature.
During the reading students learned how the book’s characters lived in a box, ate food from a box, worked in a box and spent most of their time inside the boxes of modern existence. The hero of the story realises that there should be more to life, and decides to break free from the city and live in the forest where there are no boxes. Of course, the box people that inhabit the city aren’t too happy about him breaking the norms of their society and decide to investigate and see what the hero is up to. In the end, they all feel healthier and happier once they escape the confines of their box town.
When asked what inspired him to write this story, Peavy replied, “Nowadays we all live in the controlled environment of our houses and apartments separated from nature. We get our food from boxes, we work in offices that are like boxes, we spend our leisure time in malls that are box-like and all of our time is spent indoors. This type of lifestyle and disconnection from nature isn’t healthy. We need to get outside and play. We need to escape the confines of our boxes and discover our connection with nature. We all need to do this for health and happiness. Hopefully, this story will spread that message to parents and their children and they’ll be inspired to get outdoors more often.”
James Forsythe, Creativity Action Service (CAS) Coordinator at PIA commented, “The message of The Box People fits perfectly with our belief that students need to get outdoors to learn and experience nature first-hand. We, as teachers, are asking young people to act on environmental issues all the time in our schools, but without developing their love of nature first, it is unlikely that students will act in meaningful ways to help the environment.
The timing of Kenny’s visit could not have been more perfect; PIA students from grades 3-10 are on their annual Week Without Walls Off Campus Learning trips in the upcoming weeks. There is hardly a day that goes by at PIA where you do not see students learning outside, but these residential trips allow for extended periods of time of learning in nature. Students love these trips and they really make a huge impression. It’s one of their favourite weeks of the school year and it’s a great way for them to learn new skills and expand their personal comfort zones outdoors.”
To emphasise their message of the importance of getting outdoors and learning about nature, James and Kenny were part of the GREEN Paddlers expedition. GREEN Paddlers was comprised of four teachers from PIA and the International School of Bangkok that circumnavigated Phuket in kayaks last April to raise awareness for marine conservation issues in Thailand and Southeast Asia.
During their GREEN Paddlers expedition they created a series of educational documentaries showing some of the issues Phuket faces, as well as highlighting those individuals taking action to solve these issues for a sustainable future.
Written by James Forsythe, Creativity Action Service (CAS) Coordinator at Phuket International Academy and Kenny Peavy, Author, Educator and Naturalist. email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org