Though it was very cold early in the morning, children’s were waiting eagerly outside the venue on fisrt December day. No-one wanted to miss the start of the first academy. 90 children and 20 teachers and parents from 8 schools attended the Academy in College of Natural Resources ,Lobesa, Punakha, Bhutan.
Thanks to the commitment of UNESCO South Asia Foundation Madanjeet Singh Centre for Forestry, UWICER and College of Natural Resources making the Aacademy possible. The event was free-of-charge for all the attending children, who were aged 8-14. The Academy was made possible by the team of local volunteers and friends (Arjun Nepal, Karma Jamtsho, Karma Tenzin (Photographer), and Pema Dorji. Last but not least a special thanks goes to Plant-for-the-Planet Program Coordinator Sunil Sapkota and other administrative staff and canteen management at College of Natural Resources. Also a great thank-you is directed to the many helpers and supporters. Without your help the implementation of the Academy, venue, technology, food, tree-planting event would not have been possible.
After a brief welcome and an introductory game in the majestic college yard, the full attention of the children turned to the presentation "Now we children save the world!", which was given by previously appointed Climate Justice Ambassdor and project coordinator Sunil Sapkota. Children were explained more on sources of CO2, global warming, photosynthesis, the climate crisis, Plant-for-the-Planet and global justice. These topics were presented in a way suitable for children of the same age. In the subsequent question and answer session, the children had the opportunity to eliminate any queries they may still have had.
After a short break with light refreshments, the children were divided into five small groups to learn about global distribution and justice in the World Game. The children distributed playing figures, candy and balloons on the world maps laid out on the floor as symbols of the world’s population, wealth and CO2 emissions respectively. The children didn’t need to be told twice to distribute the balloons and sweets among the playing figures. Eventually, the CO2 emissions and wealth were distributed fairly – everyone has equal rights.
Then the children formed 10 public speaking groups and prepared and presented short passages from the opening presentation that they had seen at the start of the day. They gave each other tips to improve their presentations in the future.
The children then had a lunch break and were able to relax a little, take lot of photos in their Plant-for-the-Planet T-Shirts and to discuss with each other the topics covered so. After lunch was over, the afternoon kicked off with the movie about Felix’s and his speech and a short movie about Wangari Maathai. The message of the film was clear: a kid can achieve a lot, but only if he firmly believes in what he is doing.
Rested, and feeling energized, the children relocated to the schoolyard to plant their own trees! Before the planting commenced, the children listened to the advice of the invited forester. He explained how and when to plant trees, and also showed the children how to care for them to make sure they survive, and thereby absorb as much CO2 as possible. In total they planted 10 trees in just over 60 minutes.
With the assistance of the strong adults present the children placed the trees in self-prepared holes. Then the children decorated one of the trees with their personal wishes.
After a short break the programme continues. While a small group prepared to give the final presentation for the attending parents and other guests, the rest of the children started the "World Café" module.
Then a shortened version of the Academy presentation was shown to the attending family, friends and guests. After a long, eventful, and enjoyable day, all 90 participants were happy. An interesting day had come to an end. Apart from the experience and newly found knowledge, all new Ambassadors took with them a copy of Tree-by-Tree book, and of course the Plant-for-the-Planet T-shirt they collected at the start of the day. Parents, friends, organizers and guests were very impressed by the performance of the children. At the end of the Academy Vice mayor Parbati Shah showed up accepting our proposal to have a Stop talking Start planting Banner and provide some valuable suggestions.
The team at Plant-for-the-Planet would like to thank all those involved for this wonderful Academy Day.
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