The Hero School gives students the resources and training they need to use green building to combat environmental degradation and challenges within their communities. Guatemala lacks critical household infrastructure and proper waste management systems, causing health and environmental issues. Students learn to identify problems in their community and address them repurposing waste to build dry compost latrines, water tanks, and stove filtration systems for under-resourced households.
According to 2009 census data, of 41,520 residents in San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala: only 7% of children attend secondary school; 0% of residents have appropriate waste management solutions; and, 14% report full-time employment with benefits. The cycle of poverty is hard to break when burning garbage or throwing it into the local ravine leads to poor health outcomes and from there to low school attendance and few employment options.
The Hero School at Centro Educativto Tecnico Chixot is a unique program implemented in grades 7-11 that gives students engage in a project-based learning that improves critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a way that also teaches them to be active participants in their communities. Through the process of identifying families in need, designing and budgeting for the project, and building the project, our students learn employable skills and improve the quality of life for the community.
In Comalapa, 64% of the population live in poverty and 27% live in extreme poverty. Water sources are contaminated with waste and many families lack proper smoke filtrating stoves, causing gastrointestinal and respiratory issues, respectively. Solutions to these problems are few and most are expensive. Green building is an affordable way to address all of these concerns and one that gives students the opportunity to be active community participants and entrepreneurial change-seekers.