Act2Sustain- an update on Aya’s Greenheart Global Impact Grant project

Every year, Greenheart awards Global Impact Grants to participants and alumni who want to make a difference in their world. In December 2021, one of our winners was Ayaulym (aya) Akhilova, a former FLEX high school student in 2019-2020. She used her grant to teach youth about the importance of combating climate change, to create a sustainable environmental practice in the region.

Green is the new black. To have a small but mighty impact on the reduction of climate change, 18 determined high school and university students are leading the charge towards a more sustainable future. With paintbrushes in hand and a passion for the environment, these eco-warriors embarked on a project that not only highlighted the importance of protecting our planet but also showcased the power of youth activism. The result? A beautiful and inspiring display of how small actions can make a bigger impact in smaller communities while creating an eco-friendlier approach among citizens.

Act2Sustain was an intensive three-day workshop organized in Almaty, where people breathe deadly air every day. The main goal was to promote environmental sustainability among young people and protect the natural environment. During the workshop, participants engaged in various informative, engaging, and practical workshops led by eco-activists who are dedicated to the cause. On the first day of the workshop, students had an introductory session on climate change and had a heated discussion about existing environmental problems in the country. Participants were also exposed to different environmental challenges and solutions through various sessions and were given the opportunity to share their perspectives and ideas on how to address these challenges. This not only increased their knowledge of environmental issues but also helped them build their confidence in communicating their thoughts and ideas effectively.

While learning about crucial topics such as climate change, it is important to pay attention to smaller, everyday things like your grocery shopping bag you use. Even though citizens are getting used to the use of eco bags, it is still a common practice in Kazakhstan to use plastic bags for grocery shopping. Therefore, apart from discussions and sessions, attendees had an unleash-your-creativity type of workshop — tote bag painting. Through creating their own designs on canvas tote bags participants were encouraged to let their creativity and imagination flow as well as taking a step towards reducing waste and helping the environment. At the end of the workshop, students had their one-of-a-kind eco-friendly bag that could be used for shopping, running errands and carrying personal items.

One of the key highlights of the project was a group clean-up in the Kok-Zhailau mountains. In cooperation with KIMEP Eco, an eco-club that is based at KIMEP University, participants and members of the club organized a massive clean-up where participants were passionate about making a positive impact on the environment. During the clean-up, they collected over 40 trash bags worth of litter and debris, which was a testament to the severe impact that humans have had on the Almaty mountains.

An important part of the workshop was for participants to present their grassroots project ideas that they were working on throughout the workshop. For example, the Speak Green project was proposed. It focused on raising awareness regarding ecological problems through social media. According to one of the participants, “social media is an important part of our lives. If we use it wisely, it is possible to raise the topic of the importance of the problem to a bigger audience, not only our local community.” The concept was to create a social media page with a series of webinars and posts which is both convenient to familiarize with the information and spread it.

It was a great time working on the project as it was a first-of-its-kind experience for our team. Furthermore, it made us happy to see that there are many students who are concerned about the environmental situation, which can only make us feel happy and excited. Especially when the participants of the project included both ecology majors at universities and those who have no experience in this field but are eager to take action to save the earth. We hope to see the growth of the project and plan to develop it further by applying for more grants programs to support its sustenance and its small alumni community. We are deeply thankful to Greenheart for believing in us and supporting our beginnings.

If you are interested in being a host family to a student like Aya, please visit to learn more.

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Click here if you’d like to donate to help Greenheart fund the Global Impact Grant program.

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