Two academies took place in Survilliers, Val-d’Oise, France on the 28th & the 30th November 2017. 105 children from the two local primary schools were keenly waiting for the academy to start. The event was free-of-charge for all the attending children, aged from 8 to 10.
The academy began with a warm welcome from Jill Tellier, Plant-for-the-Planet coordinator, and Michel Raes, local councillor. Then the full attention of the children turned to the presentation “Now we children save the world!” given by Jill Tellier and supported by statements from several children. Complex topics, such as sources of CO2, global warming, photosynthesis, the climate crisis and global justice were presented in a suitable way for children. After the presentation, the participants had the chance to clarify their questions.
After the presentation and discussions, the children were divided into small groups, to learn about global distribution and global justice through the “World Game”. The children distributed pawns, sweets and balloons among the continents displayed on the world map symbolizing the world’s population, wealth and CO2 emissions respectively. After seeing the real life distribution of these resources, all children agreed that the distribution was unjust. Although only 0.5 percent of the population lives in North America, they possess almost 30 percent of the world income and emit 20 percent of CO2 emissions. Therefore the children redistributed the sweets and balloons, in order to visualize how a fair distribution would look like and to keep in mind that everyone should have equal rights.
After a short break, a second workshop began, called “Public Speaking”. In order to take action and speak up for their future, the children need good presentation and speaking skills. Therefore the participants prepared and presented short passages from the opening presentation they had listened to in the morning. They gave each other feedback on how to improve their presentations in the future.
Once the lunch break was over, the children had the opportunity to take action for their future right away: they went out into the local community to plant trees! In addition, they received information on how to plant trees, when to plant them and how to take care of them. In return, the participants were able to show off their newly gained knowledge about the role and importance of trees. In total they planted 4 different tree species (Tulip, Cherry, Oak and Apple, *). The children finished the planting event with a magnificent Stop Talking, Start Planting battle cry!
Back at the community centre the children started the World Café. During this activity the participants were collecting ideas on how to get the attention of the media, how to motivate adults, friends and classmates and how to organize a planting party. At the end, a plan of action was formed from each group, detailing the next steps to take.
At the end of the day, the children proudly presented the prepared presentation and their ideas from the World Café, with a special guest, the Mayor, in attendance.
An interesting day had come to an end. Apart from the experience and newly found knowledge, all participants were appointed as Ambassadors for Climate Justice and received a certificate, a Plant-for-the-Planet T-shirt and the book ‘Tree-by-Tree’. Organizers and guests were very impressed by the performance of the children.
The academy was made possible thanks to the commitment of the Survilliers Town Council and the voluntary team of local organisers. Special thanks goes to the Plant-for-the-Planet Programme Coordinator Jill Tellier and also to Councillor Michel Raes, and to all the volunteers who gave up their time to assist the Academies.
A huge thanks to all the helpers around the venue, in respect to the technology, catering and security at the tree-planting event. Without their support the academy would not have been possible.