Still a little jaded from jet lag I pushed myself out of bed this morning to get to the Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots award at the Zoological Society of London, where Dr Goodall herself was attending.
It’s an annual event which recognises the most outstanding projects run by schools up and down the country to “foster respect and compassion for all living things,” it also hopes to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs as well as inspiring young people to take action for a better environment.
It began in Tanzania after a group of teenagers approached Dr Goodall about their concerns for their community. It now runs in over 130 countries on six continents. In the UK there are 1600 groups in primary, secondary and universities.
Dr Goodall is most famous for her work raising awareness about the plight of chimpanzees but she is also a keen advocate of issues surrounding the future of planet, including climate change and the impact of man on other species such as the rhino.
Today I met a young man who has overcome personal adversity and is now focussing his energy and time on doing his bit for the environment. I was blow away by this positivity and people like this teenager helps to give me some hope for the next generation.
Sixteen year old Rob Yates told me, “When I do gardening I feel relaxed and I can be myself. I’ll normally do a bit before dinner time and before lesons it helps me to feel calm and relaxed. I think it is really important to learn about sustainability and the preservation of our planet, there is only one. You don’t get another chance and we only affecting ourselves in the long run if we don’t do something now.
“Our next door neighbour never used to recycle, he used to bin everything, so we went and got recycle bins and put them in his garden. He has now been recycling for the last four weeks.”
His teacher, Wendy Litherland from St Christopher’s Church of England School in Accrington, Lancs told me, “It is essential that the next generation is inspired to change both their materialistic and selfish ways, everything we do affects our planet and without change we are headed for a disaster.
“I think more schools need to do more and reflect this in the curriculum. We are surprised to see how important it is to be able to demonstrate ‘sustainability’ in UCAS applications. For us I think it puts our children at an advantage and it’s not just lip service, the way we engage with our students has changed the culture of our school.”