Greenskills- A unique effort to restore urban ecosystem

To protect the environment and restore traditional lifestyle in urban areas, a variety of programmes is being introduced across the world by different organizations. People are working to improve their lives and to return to less artificial environment by planting trees. URI GreenSkills is a unique programme by New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees. Its objective is to promote and demonstrate sustainability in action through creation of employment opportunities and the provision of training, research and on-the-ground projects.

It is a well-accepted fact that to restore urban ecosystem is not an easy task anymore. It needs a well-organized plan in which participation of a large number of people is inevitable. To fulfill this requirement, GreenSkills has involved not only the high school students and local people in its programme but it has provided a great opportunity to ex-offenders to work for the welfare of the society. Striving to achieve multiple goals by this programme, GreenSkills is trying to inculcate in the people the sense of responsibility towards their environment and is helping them to value leadership qualities and teamwork.

This programme has earned a great respect in New Haven. It is being appreciated by the people from all walks of life as it is bringing the city closer to its goal of planting 10,000 new trees by 2014. A positive change has also been noticed in the lives of the ex-offenders, who are participating in this programme. Their closeness with the nature is bringing peace and tranquility in their lives along with a respectable way of earning. Undoubtedly, this programme has ensured an effective rehabilitation of these prisoners. Colleen Murphy-Dunning, the director of Urban Resources Initiative, strongly believes in providing healthy activities to the ex-convicts to reduce the rate of recidivism in them.

Newly planted trees in the streets of New Haven are the signs of an honorable return of the inmates to the main stream of life. Seeing these ex-convicts planting trees is a usual site for the inhabitants of that area. A number of ex-offenders are now GreenSkills internees. While undergoing a natural therapy, they are taking care of trees and maintaining the gardens with full zeal and zest. Their inclusion in this programme has helped them to get job when the rate of unemployment in New Haven is 9 percent. Normally, these inmates are not welcomed for other jobs and around 50 percent prisoners remain jobless. It has always been a great challenge for them to get stability in their lives.

Reintegration of the prisoners in the society thorough this initiative is less in cost and is a reflection of the idea of healing the land and people simultaneously. Thorough its innovative plans and projects, GreenSkills is bringing a large number of people in its vital sector and is helping them to experience ecological integrity, economic health and personal wellbeing.

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