Roots & Shoots – Shimna Integrated College Co Down Northern Ireland

Shaman’ Roots & Shoots Group focus on connection to local landscape, learning about nature and our interconnectedness and how we can help our local community to appreciate, love and protect the wonderful eco systems we are lucky to be surrounded by:- including sea shore, coast, forest, woodland and mountains.

During late winter we had many walks amidst Slieve Donnard Forest Park which is just behind our school grounds. Our student leader, Dara, taught us about fungi and we spotted some really beautiful Yellow Staghorn Fungi! It is a jelly fungus, we researched fungi and how important it is to the eco system. Much fungus grows its networks under the ground and the mushroom we see, is just its fruit. We had such a good time and now we all know how incredibly essential it is to the health of the natural world. We also spent some quiet time in the forest listening to birdsong and appreciating how nature can help our well being

Our forest unfortunately had a lot of litter which had accumulated since we cleaned it up last year. We spent almost two hours with lots of kids and adult volunteers picking up 15 bags of rubbish! Litter is a real threat to our local nature, it injures wildlife and it is just awful to look at. We worked really hard to clean it all up.

Shaman’ Roots & Shoots had great fun taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. We counted fifteen birds, six different species, including a Goldcrest! Recording the birds in your school is a great way to take part in citizen science and raise awareness of local biodiversity.

Recently our student leader, Dara applied to Grow Wild for youth funding. We were so delighted to be awarded £500 for our project ‘Meadows In Mind’. We will learn all about the decline of meadows, plant our own in Spring and we will also learn about how important wildflower meadows are for pollinators and also for our mental health. We will also publish a book of poetry! Exciting! Watch this space! Here we are working on our research and making a start on our poems. Dara told us all about the different wildflowers which we might have around our school already such as Dandelions. Primroses and Bluebells.

We have been recording the wildlife in and around our school and community. We made a notice board of what mammals we have found so far to educate the rest of our school and to make students excited about the wildlife on our doorstep.

We are working on making our school a plastic free environment. Giving students reusable water bottles and making our canteen a plastic free area. We are phasing out drinks cartons and plastic packaging. To raise awareness we made a huge notice board in our dining area. We aim to educate, inspire and take action.

Dara goes to The British Zoological Society and meets Michael Gove! Our student leader, Dara is also an iWill amabassador, this means he takes a lot of action outside of school to make sure all our voices are heard. He recently met Michael Gove and three Galapogas Turtles! Dara also gave a speech to lots of wildlife organisations about how important government action on environmental issues is. How much young people care and how they should be supported to make a difference in their communities. Dara is an inspiration and always puts young people on the agenda and makes people listen to our pleas, we want a healthier environment which is accessible for everyone.

Roots & Shoots Awards

Has your school been helping people, animals or the environment? Post a story about it online and win an award!

If you post a story about your school's work here on the www.rootsnshoots.org.uk website you will be eligible for a Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots Award and the chance to be invited to this year's awards ceremony to meet Dr. Jane in person. You can write about your experiences completing one of our activities or anything else that your school has been doing to help people, animals or the environment.

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