Upcycle Courses for Children


The fundamental goal of my courses for children?
"Through play, get a message across."

I have always believed that all kids love to play, and that there’s no better way for children to learn than when they are having fun.

In 2014 I started a project focused on teaching underprivileged schoolchildren in Vietnam and Cambodia, how to upcycle plastic waste into kids crafts (kites).

Aims of the project:

  1. Share a “know how” with young generations.
  2. Give a second life to plastic waste / plastic bags.
  3. Talk about the issue of plastic waste pollution.

The project come from my personal initiative, and not related to a company project, or of an organization, or even a religious denomination. It’s just my call.

Everything happened with just one guy (me) on the ground.

All about, the courses aimed as a sort of solidarity and humanist project involving recycling and education – some fun-filled ecological course for underprivileged children.

NGOs Schools

My courses were voluntarily organized in cooperation with NGOs schools caring for underprivileged school children in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Each course lasts ~12 days, enough time for children to become autonomous with their new crafting skills.

As a result, I have organized 15 courses, worked with ~350 children, and collected thousands of plastic bags.

My courses were voluntarily organized in cooperation with NGOs schools caring for disadvantaged school children. in Vietnam and Cambodia

I’ve organized 15 courses between Vietnam and Cambodia, worked with ~350 children, and collected and upcycled thousands of plastic bags.

Each course lasts ~12 days, enough time for children to become autonomous with their new crafting skills.

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Plastic Bags / Plastic Waste

The founding principle of my project was certainly not to use new plastic bags to create our crafts with the children.

So, the first step was to collect discarded plastic bags that we could reused.
Even if most of the areas, even local landfills (where we collect the plastics) are still horrible to me, it was always OK for the participating children. In fact, the kids were always excited to go picking-up plastic waste / our raw material for the course, and simply because:

  1. these areas are normal to the project participants, because they are, unfortunately, a part of their daily life.
  2. kids are looking to have fun and to make crafts. Outdoor activities are usually more attractive than school classes. Buying children’s toys for underprivileged families is definitely not a priority.

Again: this step was not about cleaning a dirty area, but to collect the plastic waste / plastic bags that we can reuse.

Learning Through Play

・Do children care about environmental issues? Not really.

・Do disadvantaged children (kids who are raised in areas littered with plastic waste and other waste) care about environmental issues? Even less!

My project’ method was not to slap a privileged or underprivileged child’ brain with strong or desperate “Plastics Waste Are Not Good” as most teachers or speakers may do. Sorry, but children just don’t give a s*** about that.

Instead, my “learning through play” method and the project’s first goal was for the children to have fun during a course. Naturally, to see them happy in learning a new crafting skill, but also becoming creative, proud of their creations, to look at them playing with their new DIY crafts like crazy-happy kids do with their toys, and even to take ownership of them. These elements are at kids’ scopes.

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Environmental Issues and Awareness

My last project goal was to affect awareness about the environmental issue of plastic waste pollution to the children.

My method uses the kids’ excitement and new energy generated throughout a course, to finally counterbalance that innocent (and beautiful) state, to discuss about that plastic waste we actually had great fun with.

This final step always took place with photos and videos captured during the plastic waste collect, steady classes, to local and educative animations, and to short discussions about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is very, very close to the countries of these kids.

Here, this step was dramatically generating others faces expressions from the kids – completely the opposite than during our previous super times of complicity, friendship, fun and great energy. This contrast was a way of making an impact with children.

A New Journey

I had the idea for this project during my third trip in Asia.
My previous trips here were about many things, and also about sharing some things with the people and kids I was encountering and spending some fantastic times with every day. Most travelers knows this state of “sharing” with local people we’re encountering during a trip.

So this new journey was kinda the same as my previous ones: another solo and motorbike trip in these countries, but now while organizing some upcycling courses along the way! A new journey, with the simple purpose of sharing a personal and poetic feeling (my feeling) on how to generate great fun and pollution awareness from free of charge plastic waste collecting.

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DIY Kites


It all started with my project “I Believe We Can Fly”.

In 2014, I returned for the 4th time to Asia and with this project only in my backpack. Creating DIY kites with underprivileged children was the perfect match, because the kite comes from Asia; this children’s toy was 100% relevant to the project participants and their local culture.

What about the plastic bags to create our kites? Well, they can be found everywhere.

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DIY Flowers


I started my DIY flowers courses in 2016.

After many DIY kites courses, I became interested to find a second craft to work with children. Et voilà!

For this new course my method was the same: collect plastic waste (plastic bags), wash them and turn/upcycle them into crafts.

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A New Journey

I’m neither some kind of arrogant conquistador nor a school teacher. Thereby and also, I’ve not organized my courses to tell children what they must think or what is best for their well-being.

Let’s look at a basic point: we know that, sometimes, when we’re discussing with our best friends or even relatives, when we’re really trying to explain something to them, or explaining them another opinion, they might never agree or never really understand different concerns. Right?
Basically we can say that our friends or relatives are not ready to understand (even to listen, sometimes) a different opinion.

So, here as a European and organizing of courses for Asian and underprivileged children, knowing that these young fellas and I are not from the same country but from a different planet, that these little guys are children, that we don’t have the same culture at all and so forth, be done to earth: how to expect to really explain/teach/raise awareness about the plastic waste pollution and that nobody really cares in Southeast Asia? (in just a ~12day course??)

This relevant concern is, however, the reason ‘why’ I’ve look for to work with children and never with adults.
Because children love to play, children are sponges, they’re curious, innocent, amazing, they love to craft and to have fun.

My project and courses had the simple and humanist purpose to teach a friendly crafting skill to kids, mixing with a certain awareness about the environment issue of the plastic waste pollution (especially in these countries!) and to appreciate the results with the cooperating NGOs schools.
Since the younger generations copy the behavior they see around them, my goal was to demonstrate an alternative environmental action through an educative, poetic and fun-filled way.

“Through play get a message across” was the everything of my courses and to my new (and solo) journey.
People change if they want to, and as Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.”

I have done 'my bit of it'. With some young generations (and besides, Asians and underprivileged kids), I have done something. Something that was looking Beautiful and Great to me for a better / happier and cleaner world.

Photo Copyright

The photos of my courses for children has been uploaded and indexed online with the CC BY-NC 4.0 Creative Commons License to their metadata. So, if some photos can be used to inspire some people in their educational and environmental projects: go for it!

Check out my bellow photo gallery and contact me for uncompressed, watermark-free and full-size images.

creative commons BY-NC
Creative Commons License
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Photo Gallery

Questions & Answers

Because underprivileged kids are happily playing with everything they have.

The first school had organized another kites-making course with their schoolchildren (for a national event celebrated at school – Vietnam)!

Unfortunately no other of the 14 NGOs schools kept my courses going as far as I know.

I find this reality such a pity, and since the participating school children always had the skills to keep crafting after my courses were done.

One conclusion of this personal project and courses: in such countries.. English and computer lessons seems more essentials for schools than environmental activities and awareness. Such a pity.

My last one was in late 2019 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

After many voluntary classes, great results for me, and no interest from a school in potentially hiring me for a long-term project with their schoolchildren, I moved ahead into my corporate photography.

However, I’m always up to another course or feedback! Contact me if needed.