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We participated in the Invisible Children's (www.invisiblechildren.com) Displace Me (www.displaceme.com) event in Washington D.C. on the National Mall to raise awareness of the 21-year war in northern Uganda and the poor conditions of the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps. We brought water and saltine crackers, which were later rationed to us, to simulate the experience of those living in the IDP camps. We made shelter out of cardboard and slept in sleeping bags on the Mall all night. We learned that only 20 percent of northern Ugandan schools remain open, that the majority of deaths are a result of the poor living conditions at the camps and that there is so little media coverage of what is going on that many Ugandans who live just 200 miles away often go their entire lives never hearing about the situation in northern Uganda. Fifteen cities across the U.S. held the Displace Me demonstrations, which will hopefully encourage the current administration to become involved.
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Amy Vaerewyck, Roots & Shoots Program Assistant, and Chase Pickering, Roots & Shoots Youth Leadership Fellow, visited the Roots & Shoots group at Forestville Elementary School in Great Falls, Virginia. We opened with brief R&S refresher. Then, Chase told Antarctica stories, relating his experiences to the problem of climate change. We brainstormed with the students what they can do to stop climate change and made a list on the blackboard. Then, we led them in making energy-saver light switch plate covers. Here's how we did it: 1. Trace the shape onto contact paper, using a cut-out template. 2. Cut out shape. 3. Decorate switch-plate cover with energy-saving slogans, stickers. We encouraged the kids to take the switch plate covers home and ask their parents if they could stick them to a light switch to remind family members to turn off the lights. The switch plate covers were a hit, and it was a really simple project and concrete concept that the kids could grab onto. We learned that the fourth-graders at Forestville know a LOT about global warming!
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This project is done by me, David, alone. My goal is to count, nurture and keep track of several infant trees that I find in my backyard. Afterwards, I will make a count of how many infant trees are present in my backyard.
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We returned to our favorite community garden for our Earth Day activity. Samaritan House has a plot of garden that welcomes volunteers of all ages to help plant, tend and harvest vegetables that are used to cook meals for low-income families. For Earth Day, we harvested chard, planted strawberries, dug up weeds, watered and harvested radishes. We each received a beautiful iris from the garden to bring home. It can be hard to find volunteer opportunities for small kids, so we feel very lucky to have found such an amazing place! We will definitely be going back.
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On April 21, 2007, our Roots & Shoots partnered a local environmental group to provide an opportunity for young children to learn more about plants and animals. In Ohio, there is an interactive science center called COSI and for Earth Day it worked together with the Division of Wildlife to present a program using their mobile unit and a wildlife bioligist. The program incorporated learning about water safety, identifying plants and animals, understanding wildlife behaviors and habitats and much more. Our Roots & Shoots members provided the hands-on help in the form of teaching/guiding needed for the children to visit each station and learn something new. Approximately 75 young children and parents attended and everyone had a great time!
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I am a senior citizen member of R&S. At WCSU's Earth Day, I set up a table with information about the Women's Center of Greater Danbury, this being the Human Community of R&S. I asked my husband to join me which he did, setting up a table for The Nature Conversancy/Sunny Valley Farm located in New Milford, Connecticut, where we live.
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In the Fall of 2006, I had been trying to "get into" the New Milford, Connecticut School System to give a R&S presentation to teachers. I was finally accepted to do a 3 hour presentation on March 28, 2007, which was during an In-service Program, or Teachers' Workshop. I am "attached to the WCSU R&S group, so I asked for help and was then joined by two R&S members from WCSU's R&S program, Zach Storey and Nina Martin, Jeannie Dewan from Rhinebeck, New York and David Chase, a member of the Youth Leadership Council from the Boston Region. Jeannie's program was Jane Goodall's background, mine was my experiences with R&S in Dar es Salaam in Jan, Feb, and March of 2005 with Erasto Njavike preparing for International R&S Day 2/25/05, David talked about Youth Leadership and involvement with R&S, and Nina and Zach talked about R&S projects.
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We organized and implemented a community-wide Earth Day event! The event was free to the public. We recruited local organizations and businesses to come and raise awareness of earth friendly living ideas and local ecology. Many school organizations volunteered where needed and we were able to get some great PR through our local newspapers and radio station for no additional cost. Be prepared for bad weather! Turnout to our event was great despite the constant rain.
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We have worked on this campaign for two years now. This year, we started by giving a presentation to the entire school (grades 8-12 , 800 people) about what a green school is. We emphasized four areas on our campus where we believe we can make a difference - reducing carbon emissions and ozone levels, the reduction of Styrofoam use on campus, being sun wise, reducing our lunchtime garbage and recycling paper. We continued the year with our paper recycling program although we ran into a few glitches with our recycling provider. We have to contract out since we are a private school. We hosted an evening showing of An Inconvenient Truth and planted trees to offset our carbon use. We will end the year with a program we call "Students Supplying Students" an end of the year exchange of books and unused items. This program was started by our group two years ago and is now a school wide mandate. Any items not taken we will take with us to Guatemala in June (we are traveling to work with Safe Passage and items will be given to the Guatemala City children who live in the city dump).
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This is the second year that we have collected single lonely socks from the community and reused them by making toys for cats. The socks are stuffed with fluffy filling and catnip. The ends are then sewn shut. We take the socks to the local Humane Society chapter here in North Miami. Cats love them! This year we made 100 toys. The kids had fun delivering them to the shelter.

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