MORE than 300 pupils from Edendale and Imbali attended World Wetlands Day at Greater Edendale Mall (GEM) last Thursday. This was an initiative organised by the mall in partnership with Liberty NPO and other stakeholders to teach pupils about the sustainability of healthy wetlands. Pupils were educated in environmental studies through fun games and practical experiments at different stands that were put up at the mall, also built on a wetland estate.GEM Marketing Manager Sonya Caldecott said the initiative was done to encourage pupils and the community to assist in rehabilitating the 40 degraded wetlands around the greater Edendale area.“We are overwhelmed by the interest shown from the community, schools, partners and businesses. We believe the message did reach the pupils and from the practical exercises they participated in they were exposed to all the information they have been learning at school and will join in the campaign to rehabilitate our wetlands.”Ground Truth Wetland Ecologist Brad Graves said the idea was not only to teach about wetlands, but to include themes like river health and educate on the conservation of water.“We introduced them to what a catchment area is, the water cycle and how it all fits into wetlands. We also touched on three aspects of wetlands and how pollution and litter contributed to unhealthy rivers. “We had charts illustrating everything so they saw it in reality.”Graves said it was better to aim at pupils and create consciousness in them about environmentally related issues.“They will grow up knowing that whatever they do they must protect natural resources at all costs.” Salona Reddy of the Institute of Natural Resources said most of the pupils she interacted with had seen wetlands before but did not know their function.“They were interested and asked many questions especially the older ones who had learnt about wetlands at school. It was really good to see the pupils taking all the information in.”Phambili Private School Grade 5 pupil Sbahle Ndlovu said she walked away with valuable information from the engagement.“I learnt that we must not waste water or pollute rivers and dams because South Africa is also a water-scarce country. “We are sitting at number 30 on the list of countries that are threatened by water shortages. I’m going to go back home and share this information of using water sparingly with my friends and parents.”Another pupil, Olwethu Ndlovu from Georgetown High School said she had never heard of wetlands before the educational session.“I did not know that 2 February was such an important day especially because after matric I intend to pursue a career in environmental health studies. “We need information sharing sessions like this one so we can be organised in our communities and our parents can also benefit.”Pupils who attended walked away with lots of prizes.