On Friday, July 17, Santa Clarita families had an opportunity to participate in a fun event at the Valencia Library: Let’s Go Save the Butterflies, presented by Rusty Happenings creator Christopher Yates.
Active learning – through experiences rather than through passive listening or reading – is important for development. Outside of classrooms, children should absorb and construct their own knowledge of the world. Yates’ event was part of the Santa Clarita Valley’s Summer Reading Program, which lasted until July 24 and aimed to help children learn through self-initiated activities like moving, listening, and singing.
Yates, originally from New Zealand, has specialized in creating unique performances including a variety of entertainments like juggling, playing guitar, and unicycling to convey environmental problems effectively to the family audiences and present different things that people can do for the environment. For this event, he succeeded in establishing an atmosphere with good interaction between himself and the children.
While teaching them how to juggle, he pointed out that the population of the butterflies, represented by the sand balls he used to juggle, can drop very easily if we don’t pay attention to the environment. He also showed his unicycling tricks to address benefits of walking or riding bikes.
“I always wanted to do something related to the environment,” said Yates in an interview with JSR. “I try to mix the silly with the education but I think the basic concept is always there. I don’t just want to be gratuitously silly. I want to learn something as well.”
Yates’ work is for an important cause. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), migrating and breeding butterfly populations are vulnerable to harsh weather, pollution, deforestation, and scarcity of food sources.
“It was very great learning about butterfly migration and consequences of not conserving energy.” said Gabriel Solorio, an adult in attendance, in an interview with JSR.
Solorio added, “It’s one thing that the children don’t really know about and I think this event will help make children be a little bit more aware of the things that they should do for the environment and butterflies as simple as turning off the television when they are not watching.”
“It was very fun and educational. I really liked the part where [Yates] taught us how to juggle and talked about things we can do to help the environment and air quality for butterflies,” said Kristin Kim, a 11-year-old who attended this event, to JSR.
Judy McClure, a parent who attended the event, told JSR, “I am here with my seven-year-old grandson and we learned a lot. [Yates] does a good job traveling around, trying to educate people in a fun way and his enthusiasm really encourages us to do something. I think that’s what’s important.”
McClure concluded, “If everyone did a little, it would make a big difference in the world.”