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Every year in September, Roots & Shoots groups from around the world celebrate Roots & Shoots Peace Day and honour the UN International Day of Peace. Dr. Jane has been a UN Messenger of Peace since 2002 and she inspires us all to live in harmony with nature and each other. Each Roots & Shoots project is a step towards a future in which humans can live in peace in an environmentally sustainable way—a step towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This year’s theme is “Climate Action for Peace”. The theme draws attention to the importance of combatting climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world.

Andover Trees United (ATU) and the town of Andover hosted the Parade for the second time. Nine of our amazing member schools took part,   carrying their doves of peace in Harmony Woods, the community woodland that they are all helping to plant.

The Roots & Shoots ‘Making Doves for Peace Day’ sessions in the town gave the Andover Vision Team the chance to showcase their  environmental ambitions and contributions. Children and families who took part made several hundred doves The dove-making sessions were led by a rota of 10 Roots & Shoots youngsters (ATU’s  ‘Junior Branch’) and ATU volunteers. These paper doves joined the giant doves in Harmony Woods on the day of the procession.

We were delighted to welcome the Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire Lady Portal MBE DL and the Mayor of Test Valley Borough Council, Cllr Martin Hatley.

Thank you to the staff and children of Abbotts Ann School; Andover C of E School; Anton Junior School; Harrow Way School; Portway Junior School; Roman Way School; Rookwood School; Vigo School and Winton Academy.

Andover Trees United volunteers and local residents helped immensely in making the day so special – putting up shelters, welcoming the visitors and hundred(do we have an exact number for this?) of participating school children and organising refreshments – everyone got to enjoy delicious cakes and tasty treats as part of the day’s celebrations.

There were two processions – two giant doves flew from opposite sides of Harmony Woods, met in the middle and paraded together to the beautiful Arch. The crowd was buzzing with excitement. Little doves with inspiring messages and pledges were tied up all over the wood and everyone reflected on what Peace is for them and how we can help achieve it locally and globally.

A Wild Cherry tree was planted in honour of Peace Day and Dr Jane Goodall and we look forward to seeing it blossom!

Here are some thoughts from the attendees and organisers:

Wendy Davis, ATU founder said: Coming together as others are doing over the world to mark this special day raises awareness of peace, reminds us that we are a community not just locally but globally and fills us with a sense of optimism, at a time when it is all too easy to feel overwhelmed by the many problems we see around us.

Events such as this show the passion of our young people to make a difference in the world. They are very enthusiastic to join in and we want to support them in every way that we can. Taking action against climate change, the theme of this year’s Peace Day is, after all, about their future.

We are deeply honoured to host the Peace Day procession at Harmony Woods. It does much to shine a spotlight on the work that we are doing and we are immensely proud of the endorsement that the invitation from Dr Goodall and the Roots & Shoots team brings to our work.”

Tara Golshan, Executive Director, Education said:Peace is such an important element in our society today, reminding us to embrace the differences in our humanity and celebrate and support the development of our many varied cultures and our impact on the environment.  I am inspired by the work of Andover in helping us achieve this vision for the future of our planet.”

Lady Portal MBE DL said: “I was delighted to be asked to represent the Lord-Lieutenant at this event. It was a privilege to be part of such a special occasion.

There appeared to be even more children this year.  The weather was kind so processing with two huge (4 metres wide) Doves of Peace through Harmony Woods, with the occasional pause so that each child had a turn at holding the wings, was very jolly.  Once we arrived at the meeting circle the children sat on the grass holding their individual small doves which they had made at school. 

Each child then had the opportunity of hanging their doves –which had messages of hope and peace written on them – onto branches. At one level, the event was just a charming spectacle of scores of children having a lovely day out in the autumn sunshine. On another level, it was significantly more profound as the children had clearly been well taught and briefed as to the meaning of the procession – they were so articulate!

The children understood that they were there to think about nature and the environment, to think about other people and how each one of us can make a difference to the lives of others. Deep thinking – but in no way was it beyond the grasp of these primary school children.

I have huge respect for Andover Trees and Roots & Shoots and commend this project as being hugely worthwhile and important.”

Becky McGugan, Education Officer, ATU said:A wonderful day with a powerful message.  It was exciting to see the children from local schools in Andover come together to celebrate the action they were already taking against climate change.  The planting up at Harmony Woods by every child in Andover is a fantastic symbol for this year’s Peace Day theme  – ‘Climate Action for Peace’”

Claire Quarendon, the Jane Goodall Institute UK said: I love Peace Day, it’s a time to unite people from all over the World. Over 200 young people took part in the UK parade this year, double that of last year. As I looked at the two giant peace doves being walked around Harmony Woods in Andover, I was very moved, it was a spectacular sight and the children really seemed to enjoy themselves, as did I.”

Alex Walker, Teacher, Portway Junior School said:“Peace Day 2019 was an uplifting experience for all the children and adults involved. I took 14 pupils from the Eco Team and they were honoured to be the first school chosen to carry the giant dove through the woods. They also proudly hung the small peace doves we had made at school on the willow archway. A morning thinking about peace in the beautiful setting of Harmony Woods was most enjoyable and thought provoking.”

Nicola, student, Harrow Way School said:“It was a privilege to be able to be part of such an important event.”

All photos and video curtesy of Burdock Photography! Thank you John Baxter!

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