GRAND CAYMAN, April 22, 2008 – Disney Cruise Line honored the top prize winners of Disney’s Environmentality Challenge (DEC) educational program today in an awards ceremony and day of fun aboard the Disney Magic cruise ship. Coinciding with the international recognition of Earth Day, the event showcased student contributions to promote conservation and protect the environment.
A two-part educational program, DEC encourages students to take an active part in protecting their local environment by researching environmental issues, problem-solving these issues on a local level and educating others in their communities.
Students honored at the celebration represented teacher Rowena Jackson’s Year 6 class from Prospect Primary School on Grand Cayman. Through their project entitled “Protecting Our Natural Habitat,” the students cleaned up their school pond by removing trash and debris, planting native plants to attract wildlife and creating campaign signs to reduce litter at their school. They also created a school compost pile to educate fellow students and teachers on the importance of limiting waste whenever possible. Throughout the program, the class also explored environmental issues by combining classroom subjects such as math, science and language arts in addition to educating and engaging the local community.
“Disney Cruise Line is proud to celebrate Earth Day by honoring these extraordinary children” said Mark Witko, Disney Cruise Line Community and Government Relations Manager. “These students are committed to bringing about positive change in the environment, both on Earth Day and throughout the year.”
Witko, along with Captain Tom Forberg and crew members of the Disney Magic, welcomed the students aboard for the special ceremony, congratulating them on their achievements. Pilar Bush, Director of Tourism for the Cayman Islands, pointed out the importance and impact of the student’s contributions on the local community.
“We need to increase and expand the role of young people in developing solutions for environmental issues,” said Ms. Bush. “As this occasion shows, students are making a big difference in the Cayman Islands – raising awareness for environmental responsibility across our local community. It’s an honor to recognize their hard work and innovation.”
After taking part in an interactive ceremony attended by the beloved Disney characters the students were presented their awards by Jiminy Cricket, the official “Spokes-cricket” for Environmentality. The DEC program is just one of the ways Disney Cruise Line seeks to be a positive environmental partner. Cast and crew members on both of the line’s ships assist with separating and processing 405 tons of cans, bottles and other recyclables each year. Annual volunteer coastal cleanups remove an additional three tons of garbage and debris from shorelines each year, while other company programs promote waste minimization and global conservation efforts.
Guests sailing onboard Disney Cruise Line ships have the opportunity to take part by contributing to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF), which helps to raise needed funds and awareness for conservation programs, scientific research and habitat protection around the globe. To date, the fund has raised over 11 million dollars in total donations, supporting more than 650 wildlife projects in 110 countries worldwide.
”The cast and crew of Disney Cruise Line are proud to support environmental conservation through both their personal efforts and organized environmental programs,” said Witko. “Today’s event honoring these students is a great reminder for all of us to keep looking for ways to make a positive impact. As these children have shown, the ability to make a difference is really in the hands of all of us.” Disney’s Environmentality Challenge is sponsored through a relationship with Disney Cruise Line and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Department of Education and Department of the Environment.
The two-part DEC program consists of an environmental pledge and class project competition. To date, more than one million students worldwide have taken the DEC challenge. The program was created by The Walt Disney Company in 1994 to encourage students to think and act environmentally – at school, at home and in their local communities.
Starting at Disneyland in California, it has been expanded to include students in Central Florida, Hong Kong and, with Disney Cruise Line, in the Caribbean.
For more information on the program or for more details on this year’s winning projects visit the DEC website at www.deckids.org.