Nothing is better for the soul than spending a few hours listening to children talking about the future they imagine and how they are working towards it. Last Friday’s Roots and Shoots Awards gave me the opportunity to do just that.
It was a privilege to attend this inspiring award ceremony for a second year, and to learn about the different projects that schoolchildren are working on across the UK to help care for people, wildlife and the environment — the three prongs on which the Roots and Shoots programme is built.
Now present in over 100 schools across the globe, Roots & Shoots is a youth service programme for young people of all ages to foster respect and compassion for all living things; to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs and to inspire individuals to take action to make the world a better place for people, other animals, and the environment.
Held in the Barbican Centre in London, the event saw a packed out room teeming energy and inspiration. As the children showcased their schools’ green initiatives and the eco-friendly activities they’re orchestrating, it struck me just how passionate and switched on they are when it comes to making informed choices about their impact on the planet.
From planting vegetable patches to recycling Lego sets, and from monitoring local air pollution levels to creating and sending care packages to dogs in Romania, the compassion showed by these young people was truly admirable.
This year, a new addition was included in the day’s programme of events; a ‘Trashion’ Show; for which clothing designs were made from recycled and up-cycled materials and packaging. Here are some of the superb entries!
So much creative talent was displayed during the Ethical Fashion Show, and I could only admire the eye-catching styles and brilliant bravery of the entrants as they sashayed down the makeshift catwalk.
The day of course culminated in honouring this year’s Roots and Shoots Award winners, and the incredible effort they have all shown.
I’d like to take a moment to give a special mention to Ella from James Allen’s Girls’ School for winning the Most Outstanding Photograph Award for her picture of rain water in a lotus flower, taken in Ubud, Bali.
The award was sponsored by National Geographic Kids magazine, and my colleague Alex was on hand to present her with her prize. We’re looking forward to welcoming Ella into the office when she becomes a Nat Geo reporter for the day!
A special well done also to:
- Chloe Bonner, who won The Jane Goodall Award for Individual Endeavour
- Children’s Hospital School who won the Most Outstanding Group Award
- Harrow Way Community School, who won the prize for Most Outstanding Group in Touch With Nature.
There could be no better way to end such an inspiring event than to hear a few words from Dr Jane Goodall herself. First greeting us all in chimp language, she went on to excuse the absence of her beloved toy monkey, Mr H, who is this year 29 years old, has visited 63 countries and been touched by millions of hands across the world!
The original Mr H is currently in transit back to the UK from Borneo, but a similar design was on hand to help in his absence!
One of my favourite anecdotes from this year’s closing speech — and one I had never heard from Jane before — was about her favourite tree. The name Roots and Shoots was of course inspired by trees, which Jane described as ‘magical creatures’.
“My fave tree, Beech, is in Bournemouth where my sister lives,” she said. “He’s over 100 years old and I used to swing from his branches growing up.”
When you think of trees as the ultimate givers of life — providing energy, shelter and clean air to the world around them — it’s easy to see why Dr Jane would take such inspiration from them!
Thank you once again for allowing me to be a part of this brilliant celebration of education, empowerment, environment, people and wildlife!
If you want to know more about Roots and Shoots and how your local school can get involved, please visit: www.rootsnshoots.org.uk
Learn more about Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots
- Read my interview with Dr Jane Goodall about the Roots and Shoots programme
- See what happened at the Roots and Shoots Awards 2017
Learn more about Dr Jane Goodall