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The Sprouts of Hope, our Roots & Shoots group, got involved with Green Streets, an initiative that started in Cambridge, MA and has now spread to other neighboring cities like Somerville, Medford, and Boston. Green Streets created walk/ride days which take place on the last Friday of every month. On walk/ride days, people wear green and use "green" ways of transportation like walking, riding a bike, or taking public transportation. As a Roots & Shoots group, we really care about the environment and these walk/ride days are a way of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that pollute our atmosphere. To encourage people to wear green and use green transportation on walk/ride days, many local business offer special things for customers who come in wearing green or have used "green" transportation. Stores offer things like a free gift or discount or enter the person in a raffle. To support Green Streets, the Sprouts of Hope decided to help in two ways. When we go to school, we participate in walk/ride days. And we picked a Saturday to go as a group to businesses in our community to ask them sponsor the initiative like other stores near them already had. We walked along Massachusetts Avenue, where a lot of stores are located, and we went into stores that hadn't already sponsored Green Streets. At each store two or three of us spoke, telling the store owners or managers about our group and Green Streets and asked them to think about sponsoring it. We also gave them a packet of information about Green Streets and told them how to sign up. If you would like to learn more about Green Streets or start a campaign like it in your town here is the Web site: http://www.gogreenstreets.org.
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Our school, King Open uses polystyrene lunch trays. The school has around 500 kids, most of them eat school lunch, and some have breakfast at school too. Having trays made of polystyrene is not good for the Earth. Oil is used to make them, and harmful gases get emitted when they are made. When the trays are eventually dumped into landfills -- because they are very difficult to recycle -- they do not decompose. The Sprouts of Hope spoke in front of the Cambridge School Committee in October 2007, along with a few other students from our school. We told them about how it was bad for us to have to use these trays at our school, and we gave them some ideas about alternatives. There are always trade offs, one of the school committee members told us. Because of our testimony, the school committee passed a motion that requires the Superintendent to do research and recommend an eco-friendly alternative to this tray. We are hoping we can use trays that can be composted since there is now a new composting system in Cambridge. Somehow, some way we will make our school a better model of a place where we help to take care of the Earth. Next time you are eating from a polystyrene tray, remember what this message has told you. Think of something you can do to make the world a better place. It may be putting a new compact fluorescent lightbulb in your house instead of a regular one. It can be anything: just think of something you can do. You might not think this now, but you can do a lot more than you think you can to help the environment. What this experience taught us is that by speaking out about a situation we felt was bad for the Earth, we were able to make a positive difference in our community.
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Ever "stepped" something up? Like you learned a cool trick on your bike or you published your first book? Well, Sprouts of Hope, our Roots & Shoots group, "stepped" something up themselves by organizing the StepItUp 2007: Kids March in Boston. This march was a part of the nationwide StepItUp campaign to try to get the government officials to cut carbon emissions. We marched from Cambridge to Boston, and many kids and parents brought posters they'd made that spoke about why we should stop Global Warming. They had slogans such as: "Don't Fry Our Planet!" or "No Need for a Hot Tub. We have the Ocean!" and one that said "Today... Polar Bears. Tomorrow... Your Children!". We made a lot of posters, too, which were used by kids who didn't bring their own. The Sprouts of Hope group members led the mile-long march along the Charles River to the main StepItUp rally on Boston Common. We carried a big green poster that said: "Kids For Stopping Global Warming: Cut carbon by 80% by 2050." People in cars gave us a friendly "honk!" or a thumbs-up, encouraging us to continue on. We waved as a sign of thanks. We wanted to have a march for kids so everyone could see that young people are concerned that global warming is getting worse and that they want people to be more enviromentally friendly. Global Warming is a big thing to Roots & Shoots groups all around the world, and this march was important to us. And who knows, maybe by the time your grandchildren have become grown-ups, the world will have become a healthier place because we stood up and said we care.
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The Harvest Festival is a tradition in Cambridge, MA, as a way to celebrate nature and autumn. In October 2007, Our Cambridge Roots & Shoots group, Sprouts of Hope, was asked to represent our school, King Open by doing activities for kids at our school's table. We were excited by this opportunity to learn and teach about our environment. We decided our theme would be trees because of their importance to the environment. We already knew a lot about trees, but doing more research helped us learn more. We created fun tree-related projects for younger kids, like tracing leaf patterns and designing headbands, or "tree crowns" with pretty tree stamps. We also had a big cardboard tree with branches -- kids could trace a leaf and write their names on it, along with a thought or idea about trees. We hung these paper leaves on the branches of our tree. We also made tree posters and put them on the fence behind our table to explain why trees are so important. They produce oxygen for us to breathe and they take in carbon dioxide so that is good for the earth. The project was fun and kids learned a lot about trees. We also talked to lots of people at the festival about our efforts to change the Cambridge Public School cafeteria lunch trays from polystyrene to a more eco-friendly and biodegradable material. We asked them to sign our petition, which we presented to the Cambridge School Committee to show that many Cambridge families care about the issue, not just us. This was another way we educated people of all ages in our community about environmental issues. We hope to be a part of the The Harvest Festival again. It was a great experience for us. We really enjoyed being teachers about trees and polystyrene lunch trays and being the learners about everything else!
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It all started with a huge yard and bake sale we did in May 2007, when our Roots & Shoots group, the Sprouts Of Hope, made about $900. One of the places we decided to donate a portion of the money to was the garden at our school, King Open, so our school could become a more beautiful place. Our garden is where we grow vegetables, some of which we eat in our school lunches -- and we spend time there in class learning about how things grow. We are working with Louise Forrest, a gardener with the City Sprouts program that oversees our school garden. We met with her several times and she is teaching us how to take our ideas for the garden and figure out how to make them work. We also take trips with her to the garden, learn about all of the things that were going on inside of it, and work on projects there. Louise is helping us to think about how to create a "secret garden" with a sort of Chinese style! She came to one of our meetings and helped us imagine and then draw what we might like a special section of the garden -- a "secret garden" -- to look like. Then we went with her to the garden to see what our ideas might actually look like. Our donation was used to purchase an Asian plum tree that was planted near a calligraphy bench that was made by a parent working with 7th and 8th grade students. For our secret garden, the Sprouts of Hope went to a rock store and found some stones that we used to build a pathway. We are working to finish our secret garden and to fix up the rest of the garden. Over time our garden has really taken shape! And we have learned a lot about gardens, too.
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Sprouts of Hope, our Roots & Shoots group, had a yard, food and plant sale in May. We sold lots of clothes and toys and other things, but most of all the people who came liked eating our homemade food. We served freshly made Chinese dumplings, scallion pancakes, brownies, cookies and lemonade. We raised nearly $900 that day and we contributed the money we raised to three projects. The first place is the garden of our school King Open in Cambridge, MA, where we are going to donate an Asian Plum tree and plants and rocks for a "secret garden" within our school garden. We also donated some of what we raised to Jane Goodall's orphaned chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa as our part of the Roots & Shoots Tchimpounga Youth Campaign. And we purchased 25 BoGo solar flashlights that were given to children who live in Africa whose homes have no electricity. This means they now have light to use for reading and other school work. It felt really good to raise this money so we could donate it to wonderful causes to help animals and people and our school garden. And it was fun for all of us to work together planning for this day and then working at the yard sale. It was a long day but we had a lot of fun doing it together.
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Our group learned all about California Condors and the reintroduction project that brings these birds back into the wild. We learned about the history, biology and impacts that humans have on these birds (in particular lead poisoning) and how the reintroduction project started and continues. This was in preparation of a condor release on March 15. We also cleaned out our offices and enetertainment centers looking for "Techno trash" to be sent to www.greendisk.com/ for recycling. And after a last minute emergency call asking for food donations we gathered and delivered food items to a Family Resource Center that we have worked with previously.
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The Change a Light, Change the World project was a project in which we collaborated with an NSTAR electrics fundraiser to sell environmental lightbulbs or CFL's (Compact Fluorecent Light bulbs) to people around our community. Our goals for the project were to raise awareness about Carbon Emmissions, give households the opportunity to switch over to environmentally friendly light bulbs and to raise money for Heifer International. In the beginning of the school year, our high school group made it one of our goals to sell environmental lightbulbs to people in our community. Our club advisor found a fundraiser through NSTAR electric. We contacted NSTAR, who gave us a special offer to sell CFL's for 3 and 4 dollars each for two weeks. NSTAR let us keep 100% of the profits, and donated all the light bulbs that we sold. We joined forces with our school's environmental science classes to be able to sell even more lightbulbs. After the two weeks of selling CFL's, the fundraiser in total sold around 480 envrionmental light bulbs, and raised about 1,500 dollars for Heifer International. From doing this project we learned a lot of information about Carbon Emmission, including how much energy is used up by normal light bulbs, and the benifits to having CFL's. This project also helped our club learn how to organize a fundraiser, and reach out to the community. This project was inspiring because it showed the eagerness of our community to become more environmentally friendly, and that we were able to help people become more "green."
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We had a panda gram/candy gram sale at our school for Valentine's Day. The kids at school placed orders for candy grams to be sent to their friends the week before Valentine's Day. The adults and kids then attached notes to suckers with the "to & from" names. The notes had pictures of animals on them with an inspirational message. They were then delivered to the classrooms on Valentine's Day.
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Our group is in a small, rural town that does not currently have recycling for Christmas Trees. Our group members all believe in recycling, so we decided to incorporate that with our need to raise funds. We did a donation for recycling tree drive and brought in 18 trees and made $110. By contacting two of our local papers, we advertised for free in our community as well as in one close to ours. Members' parents and the kids all made signs and two of the parents came with large trailers to collect and remove the trees for recycling. The kids, under supervision, held the signs at the corner of the intersection next to the parking lot that we were using as a collection spot. Our local market was good eoungh to let us use a less busy part of their lot for our project. We had 100% participation from our members on two seperate days, 4 hours each day. This shows our groups commitment to the project and the group as a whole. This will be an annual project.

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