On the 20th January, at the luxurious Park Hyatt hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE, teachers and students arrived eager and excited to start preparing for their Awards displays.
Roots & Shoots and the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi teams arrived shortly after, followed by the rest of the guests and made their way towards the display area admiring various projects done by the students. Some of the projects included planting trees, school cafeteria initiatives to ban usage of cutleries, informative presentations on banning animal cruelty, inspiring art representing endangered species, reusing and recycling school initiatives, beach cleanups, fundraising for solar panels installation, stories and books, and many more projects done throughout the Year of Zayed.
The Roots & Shoots Awards this year hosted 164 people including 84 students, 26 teachers, 9 New York University volunteers, and 45 guests. Thirteen Roots & Shoots groups participated in the award ceremony: Abu Dhabi Homeschoolers Association, Al Raha International School, Al Reef School, American School of Dubai, Dunes International School, Fairgreen International School, GEMS American School, Happy Planet Initiative, Home Education Network of Abu Dhabi, Hunain School, Mayoor Private School Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Private Academy for Girls and Sunrise English Private School. Among the 13 participants that displayed their efforts, seven of them had the chance to present on stage.
Ms. Maria Bytchkova from Abu Dhabi Homeschooling Association (ADHSA) said: “Both we and our students learned so much from participating in the event and were inspired to do much more by Jane Goodall’s speech. We are very grateful for this amazing opportunity to showcase our work, learn from others and share a day in the company of likeminded people. This is going to be a cherished memory for all of us at ADHSA”.
Other than the schools who displayed and presented, s further 11 schools visited the awards as guests; they had the chance to get a wonderful experience as well as network, interact with one another, share knowledge and celebrate the achievements of their fellow schools.
We welcomed the humble Dr. Jane Goodall to the stage and she shared with us her early stories such as when Roots & Shoots was first initiated in Dar Al Salam- Tanzania in 1990, having only 12 students and now, by 2019, over 100 group members are in the UAE alone. She shared words of wisdom, one by a Native American Chief 60 years ago is “we haven’t inherited this planet from our parents, we borrowed it from our children” where Jane added “we haven’t been borrowing it, we are stealing it and we are still stealing it today”.
At the end of the ceremony, students enjoyed a got competitive Nurdle hunt – the beach cleanup activity lead by Rateef conservationist from Park Hyatt hotel.
Aisha Al Mazroui- Outreach programme coordinator at the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi said: “Roots & Shoots Award ceremony was a special and pleasant memory that will always be cherished, I have witnessed great passion in students which is a good indication that the planet will be in good hands.”
Tara Golshan, Executive Director, Education concluded: “As always the passion, dedication and commitment of our young members was inspiring and uplifting. They have done us proud, yet again, and continue to do so”.