Andover Trees United’s aim to engage with the young people in their community in environmental care took a huge leap forward on Friday as global initiative ‘Plant-for-the-Planet’ Academy was welcomed to Andover for the first time. The initiative’s goal is to reduce the CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, through inspiring young people to plant trees on a monumental scale.
Fifty-five students from participating schools Portway Juniors, Smannell and Enham C.E. Primary, Andover C. of E., St John the Baptist, Rookwood and John Hanson attended the day-long conference to train as ‘Climate Justice Ambassadors’. The presentations and activities were led, not by adults, but by previously trained Ambassadors, all students from St Christophers School who had travelled from Letchworth for the day, setting off at 6.30am to beat the M25 commuter traffic.
The day was further enhanced by the presence of Dr Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, who joined the proceedings in the afternoon. The visit was made possible by a long-standing relationship between local teacher Wendy Davis and the Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots programme in the UK. Portway Junior School, a two-times winner of the coveted Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots gold medal, Andover C of E and John Hanson are all Roots & Shoots schools and together represented Andover Trees United at the Schools Awards at London Zoo in December 2013. “We couldn’t believe it when we had a phone call last week to say that Dr Goodall had accepted our invitation and, on one of her rare days at home in Bournemouth, would take time out to come to the Academy. We can’t thank her enough for her support!” commented Academy organizer and UK Coordinator for Plant-for-the-Planet, Wendy Davis.
During the day, the children present learned about global warming, climate justice and gained the public speaking skills essential for taking global action. The trainee Ambassadors were also able to plant 45 native British trees, donated by UK Oak Doors, The Earth Restoration Service and The Woodland Trust, which will contribute to the children’s target of planting 1,000 billion trees by 2020 worldwide. The planting was further aided by Sparsholt and TVBC who supported this fantastic cause by providing planting sites on land at the Portway Stadium, the venue for the Academy. Andover Trees United volunteer and Wildman School of Bushcraft leader Tim Keenan showed many eager children how to plant their trees, supported by fellow ATU members. Matt Allott, science teacher accompanying students from John Hanson Community School said:
“Our students were inspired by the day. They left determined to make a difference locally for the benefit of our planet.”
The closing event was attended by Mayor of Test Valley, Cllr Janet Whiteley and M.P. Sir George Young who joined parents and other invited guests to listen to an address by Dr Jane Goodall, DBE and to hear the presentation about Plant-for-the-Planet, Climate Change and Climate Justice delivered by the new Ambassadors. Chloe Martin, Year 6 pupil at Smannell and Enham C.E. Primary said: “Great experience and I learned loads about CO2”, while fellow pupil Josh Sexton said: “It was like extreme learning!”
The Academy was made possible thanks to additional support from Sainsburys and Kenyons who donated refreshments and Portway School kitchen who made rolls and baked cookies and cake to order. Stuart Barlow, Deputy Principal of Andover College who had offered the newly refurbished Portway Stadium building as a venue, welcomed the students at the start of the day, telling them how inspired he was to see so many young people wanting to get involved in such an important project.
Andover Trees United is delighted to be supporting Plant-for-the-Planet and extends thanks to everyone who contributed, for their help in empowering young people in the local community to take action and make a difference.
Credits for photographs: Emma Phillips, the Tree Council
Contacts for further information:
About the Plant-for-the-Planet and the Academy:
Wendy Davis, UK Coordinator Plant-for-the-Planet
About Andover Trees United: