One of the questions I get asked the most when travelling and speaking around the world is ‘How can you still have hope?’ The challenging part to this is not the actual question, which is loaded with implication, but the fact that it is our young people who are asking it.
Indeed, on a recent school visit with a 500 member audience, I decided to take the initiative myself and ask them the question. Only two people raised their hands. The school I was speaking at was a privileged one; which made the response even more disconcerting.
Ironically, my answer is this; it is the young people themselves that give me hope.
I have witnessed first hand their amazing actions for our planet; their commitment, engagement and perseverance to follow the right path and, against all odds, take the road that poet Robert Frost described as ‘the one less travelled by’.
We are now celebrating our 12th anniversary here at Roots & Shoots. And how far we have come. And no, it’s not been easy. We’ve had our challenges. But now with almost 2 million children involved in the UK, not to mention the thousands more on a global scale, we are making significant progress.
Two words come to mind when I think of Roots & Shoots; Celebration – of all that we have achieved so far and continue to achieve. And, Inspiration.
Where does inspiration come from? Who inspires us? One person I know is Dr Jane Goodall who has inspired millions of people around the world. What a wonderful legacy. Preferable over saying ‘I have no hope’ or ‘what difference can I make, there’s only one of me?’
I know which choice I would make.
But inspiration, can be even closer to home; from our family, friends, neighbours, teachers and even our pets. My father was a huge inspiration to me in his lifetime, and although he sadly passed away last year, it is his inspiration and his legacy that inspires me to keep going.
And, I am inspired by all of you. George Bernard Shaw once said, “Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
That is our mission for each and every one of us here at Roots & Shoots. It is not just a programme, it is a way of life, a roadmap for living. It is therefore our duty and privilege to pass that torch on to our children, grand children and great grandchildren.
So thank you to those of you who have travelled this path with us. You are already making that difference.
For those of you who have yet to enlist; do not delay. We must act now before our impact on this fragile planet becomes irreversible. All you need to do is sign up your school at www.rootsnshoots.org.uk and begin.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our schools, partners and individuals who continue to accompany us along our journey including the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, Disney, St George’s House Windsor Castle, The Observer, Quest Overseas, Earthwatch, Kew Gardens, the RSPCA and National Geographic Kids Magazine.
Lastly, a very special thank you to Colin Firth who has travelled the last nine years of our journey with us. It has been a privilege and an honour to work with him.
And finally, and most importantly, to Dr Jane Goodall for being our inspiration, our motivation, our role model and our Olympic torch.
May we continue to make your legacy proud.
Executive Director, Education
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