x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

From the ice pack to the classroom

Schoolchildren in Dubai have been tracking explorer Adrian Hayes progress across Greenland.

Students from the Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) take part in a class where they can ask the explorer Adrian Hayes.
Students from the Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) take part in a class where they can ask the explorer Adrian Hayes.

DUBAI // As Adrian Hayes prepares for another day battling snowstorms and blood-chilling temperatures on the Greenland ice pack, hundreds of schoolchildren in air-conditioned classrooms across Dubai have been tracking his progress. Three weeks ago, Mr Hayes and two other explorers left behind the comforts of home and the Middle Eastern heat to begin a perilous trip across the world's second-largest ice sheet. Self-confessed adventure junkies, Mr Hayes, a resident of Dubai, and Canadians Devon McDiarmid and Derek Crowe are on a mission to break a world record - if successful, their expedition could be the longest unsupported Arctic journey in history. But there is a more important aim, the explorers say: creating "a meaningful climate-change and sustainability awareness project" by raising the profile of these issues among the younger generation.

At Jumeirah English Speaking School (Jess), Class 4B, led by Pete Milne, who taught Hayes' son last year, has prepared a slew of posters to raise interest in the expedition and its aims among other pupils. The eight and nine-year-olds already have embarked on several environmental projects this year - including field trips with the Worldwide Fund for Nature to the UAE's first protected mountainous area, Wadi Wurayah, north of Fujairah - and are eager to learn more about Hayes' experiences and thoughts on climate change. "We went to Wadi Wurayah and we planted mangroves and picked up rubbish," said Alice Wait. "We even found a wooden door and a lot of tissue," added Nathan Dubois. "We think it's very sad."

Pollution "is turning the world into a dustbin," said their classmate Alexander Wiltshire. The pupil Finlay Munro is one of 14 "ambassadors" elected by the school to spread the message of Hayes's sustainability mission. "I think it is a giant contribution to the environment," he said. "Personally, I probably would not have gone and done something like that, but I would still like to help and have a minor part in it." The children also are the first of many who will get to ask questions of Hayes through The National, the official media partner of the Emirates NBD Greenland Quest. Their questions will be featured in the paper and printed in full online at www.thenational.ae/Greenland loatway@thenational.ae