The Malta Independent 30 March 2023, Thursday
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Steps 1: Walks in central Malta

Sunday, 29 January 2023, 08:30 Last update: about 2 months ago

The new year saw the publication of an original concept book for all the family: ‘Steps: All a family needs to know to go for walks in central Malta’. The Malta Independent on Sunday spoke to the authors, CLINTON CASSAR and AMANDA ZAHRA, about this new book.

The book's subtitle immediately sets this first book in a new series as a book for all the family. Steps 1 is part trails for walks in Malta, part journal, part activity book. How would you best describe what it is all about? 

Essentially, the aim of these books is to encourage families to explore the outdoors and provide them with an opportunity to spend some quality time together during weekends or holidays.

This first book contains seven trails which have been prepared to help families (and tourists) discover the urban and rural environment in the central part of Malta. To further add value to these trails, we have also inserted a number of differentiated activities to transform these walks into a learning experience.


We are firm believers that learning can also take place beyond the classroom. In fact, the outdoors have the potential to serve this purpose as well! Rigorous planning was involved in preparing activities to ignite children's enthusiasm and inquisitiveness, but to also aid them in the acquisition of various skills. We also paid attention to the visual component of the books by inserting a number of photos and a mascot of the Maltese freshwater crab to accompany the family throughout the walk in an attractive manner.

The underlying idea behind the title of this book, Steps,  is that the Maltese family takes steps to bridge the gap between increasing awareness about sustainability and taking action towards it. Reflecting upon one's behaviour is an initial step towards critical thinking and behavioural change. It is for this reason that a journaling section has also been included at the end of the trail, providing space for children to evaluate this outdoor learning experience.


Throughout the book there is a constant emphasis on sustainability, including mapping which of the Sustainable Development Goals are achieved by each of the activities and trails. What are these Sustainable Development Goals and how do they enhance the experience of these walks? 

In simple terms, sustainable development is the type of development that tries to improve the living conditions of people while keeping in mind the needs of the generations to come. As a society, we cannot consume all the resources without allowing future generations to make use of them as well. We all need to work together and commit to change by doing our part. No matter how small our contribution is, we can still make a difference.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 goals that serve as guidelines. The insertion of the SDG icons in the book aim at raising awareness of these goals. The diversity of these goals, categorised under the five themes Planet, People, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership, guarantees that the planned activities are varied. This provides a holistic vision of sustainability, which is not only focused on the natural environment, thus enhancing this learning experience. This also mirrors the name of the book Steps - an acronym that stands for Sustainability trails among the environment, people and surroundings.


How did this project, and your collaboration as co-authors, come about? 

The main idea behind this project and our collaboration originated while reading for a Master's in Education for Sustainable Development organised by the Centre for Environmental Education and Research at the University of Malta. We were part of a group of students who came up with this concept but then both of us decided to further develop the idea. We recognised the innovative potential of this project since there are practically no trails in the Maltese islands that focus on sustainability issues and cater for families with young children aged eight to 12 years. Moreover, research findings clearly indicate that today's younger generation suffers from what Louv (2005) refers to as a Nature-Deficit Disorder. Children nowadays are spending more hours indoors, watching television and playing video games, resulting in a detachment from the outdoors. These factors motivated us to fill this void and prepare these sustainability walks.


Tucked inside the back cover of 'Steps' is a tracker map. When I open it, I can see a map of Malta with the locations of each walk pinned, and with a number of blank boxes. What is this map intended for? 

We wanted to extend the enjoyment of this learning experience back home through reflection. This map serves as an extension of the trail as a memento of the memories the family shared during the trail. Children can colour in the pin to show that the particular trail has been carried out, while the blank boxes can be used to place a photo, some words or drawings of anything which struck their attention during the trail.


'Steps' is published by Merlin Publishers, and is available from all bookshops as well as online from


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