Eco Children (formerly Children’s Eco Training) was founded in 2004 by Sandy Wilkes when a need was identified to educate the children of KPNR-employees on the beautiful environment they live in. By educating these children it is believed they will take ownership of their beautiful surroundings and build a foundation of conservation for future generations to ultimately create a sustainable relationship between the environment and its residents.

However, over the course of its existence Eco Children has developed into much more than just four holiday workshops every year. Eco Children came to the realisation that no child can fully embrace the unspoilt wilderness surrounding them when their basic needs are not being seen to. For this reason, the organization adopted four local primary schools and has applied a whole school development approach, with multiple improvement projects being established to enable children in the Hoedspruit and Acornhoek area to receive quality basic education as well as hands-on environmental education.

Today, Eco Children is a multi-pronged charity organisation initiated to conserve our natural heritage - the very delicately balanced and unique eco system endemic to the Lowveld of South Africa.It is incorporated under section 21 Reg. No. 2007/012052/08 and is sanctioned by the South African Revenue Service as a Public Benefit organisation, in terms of Section 18a of the Income Tax No. 930024822.

It is incorporated under section 21 Reg. No. 2007/012052/08 and is sanctioned by the South African Revenue Service as a Public Benefit organisation, in terms of Section 18a of the Income Tax No. 930024822.

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ECO Children Programmes

Holiday Workshops

This is where it all started. During school holidays Eco Children presents workshops to the children of KPNR farm workers, covering an eco-based topic. Children who attend the workshop are called Eco Kidz and attend schools in the neighbouring Acornhoek area, more than 100km from their homes. Approximately 300 children attend these workshops every holiday and it has become a highlight for all KPNR children as well as the trainers who present the workshops.

An exclusive ten-year curriculum has been specifically designed for the holiday workshops, ensuring that no child will receive the same lesson twice during the ten years they are allowed to attend the workshops.

Adult Eco Training


A need was identified at the Holiday Workshops that the adults who work on various farms in the KPNR felt left behind. The adults were not gaining the same knowledge as their children and key objectives were not reached due to this lack of information.

The Adult Eco Children workshop was established in 2014 where farm workers from the KPNR could attend and learn more about their environment and specifically the KPNR. The first Adult Eco Children workshop took place early in 2014, three were held in 2015 and more are set to follow.


With the support of Make A Difference Leadership Founction, Eco Children has adopted four schools in the Acornhoek Bushbuckridge area – Matikinya, Seganyane, Mahlathi and Hloaia Primary Schools. Eco Villages have been established at these schools and the continuous improvement of infrastructure is also a priority.

Through the Eco Village project learners and teachers maintain a beautiful eco garden that supplies the school with vegetables in order to feed all learners once a day. Learners also receive ecology-based lessons from Eco Children staff every week where they are educated on their environment and how to protect it.

Infrastructure developments include the installation of boreholes to provide running water to the schools, construction of a school hall and a new kitchens; construction of an administration building, installation of enviro loos as well as the establishment of a library.

Other Projects

Other projects include Eco Children’s volunteer programme, bursaries programme, the Kit-a-Kid initiative and the coordination of Santa Shoebox Project in the Hoedspruit area.

Through Eco Children’s well-developed volunteer programme, international volunteer groups, corporate staff, families and individuals get their hands dirty and help out at the schools. It is vitally important that charity work like this is coordinated by a local institution such as Eco Children in order to ensure that the work done is useful and sustainable.

Thanks to a partnership between Eco Children, Make A Difference (MAD) Leadership Foundation and Southern Cross Schools, nine promising youngsters are currently part of the bursary programme, attending South Cross Schools in Hoedspruit. Two other bursary students matriculated from Southern Cross Schools in 2013 and have moved on to tertiary education, thanks to the support of MAD Leadership Foundation.

Through the Kit-a-Kid initiative anyone can donate just R300 to provide a child with a brand new school uniform. This is essential not only because children are not allowed to attend school without a uniform but also gives a child a sense of pride that they can carry through to their work.

Eco Children has coordinated the Santa Shoebox Project in Hoedspruit since 2011 and it has grown every year. More than 1600 boxes were distributed in the area in 2015.