How many times have you vowed to get your kids involved in a cause, to teach them to give back, to be good citizens of the planet and appreciate all that they have?
Roots & Shoots can help.
This international service organization founded by famed chimpanzee researcher and United Nations peace ambassador Jane Goodall is all about facilitating kid activism.
“They can do something that empowers them to make the world a better place,” said Ellen Stone, who leads the club for members age 7-18 based at Sunflower Creative Arts in Boca Raton. “Their world is global.”
It can be difficult to find meaningful ways for kids to contribute to the community. Many established organizations don’t have the space, the resources or the time to let children “help” – and some are prohibited by liability issues. At Roots & Shoots, the kids can follow their interests and see how their work makes a difference.
The Roots & Shoots Sunflower chapter meets once a month to make plans and do art and nature activities. One Saturday morning a month, the kids and teens work in the Pearl City Community Garden. They have already harvested a load of greens, which they delivered to Boca Helping Hands to feed those in need. They have rows of robust tomatoes soon to ripen on the vine. Broccoli has sprouted.
Under the eye and instruction of master gardener Betsy Pickup, a retired Saint Andrew’s environmental science teacher, the kids and teens have cleared plots of ground, planted seeds and built owl houses.
Roots & Shoots members have also helped a local church set up beds to house homeless families. And they are helping students at Don Estridge High Tech Middle School create a nature preserve.
Last fall, they marched to the ocean in Delray Beach in honor of the UN’s International Day of Peace.
Earlier this month, Roots & Shoots members visited the primate research facility at Lion Country Safari, where they made toys for the chimps. Stone said that was an important field trip to connect them to Goodall’s work. The famous scientist has visited the facility near West Palm Beach, where the chimps’ behavior, interaction and personalities are studied.
Goodall started Roots & Shoots in Africa in 1991 and it has since spread around the world. Stone started the Sunflower group about three years ago, after Goodall gave a speech at Florida Atlantic University. It is funded with a grant from the Marie Graber Martens Fund of the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties.
The two Roots & Shoots groups – Re-cycos for kids 10-18 and Shooting Stars for kids 7-9 – meet once a month in Sunflower’s space, located at the rear of the Unitarian Universalist Church on St. Andrews Boulevard. Registration is free and there is plenty of room for new members.
Besides the Sunflower chapter, these Boca schools also have Roots & Shoots clubs for students: West Boca Raton High School, Claremont Montessori Center, Pine Crest and Sunrise Park Elementary.
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