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This article was published 15/6/2017 (1586 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
After a year of hard work, students at Lord Selkirk School celebrated on June 15.
"It’s outstanding how much work the school has done in the community this year," said Colleen Dawson, a Grade 6 teacher and co-ordinator of the Roots & Shoots program at Lord Selkirk School (170 Poplar Ave.).
Roots & Shoots is an international program organized by the Jane Goodall Institute. Schools or individual classrooms adopt the Roots & Shoots model, which encourages students to map their neighbourhoods; identify the balance of human, animal, and environmental characteristics; determine what is out of balance; and take action on a remediation project. Lord Selkirk School is one of three Roots & Shoots schools in Winnipeg.
"Individual classrooms do fantastic work, but they can be isolated," said Jen Duffy, manager of Roots & Shoots Canada. "With the schools, there’s that amplification effect."
All classrooms at Lord Selkirk take part in the program, which wrapped its inaugural year with an exposition and celebration at the school on June 15. Each classroom set up a display to showcase the work they did during the school year.
"We value youth voices, the projects are all youth led," Duffy said. "They choose issues they care about in their communities, and they make a difference for people, animals, and the environment. That’s their goal."
Dawson’s Grade 6 class mapped food insecurity in the neighbourhood, and came up with suggestions on how to improve it.
"It was really fun," said Ivan Manimbao, one of Dawson’s students. "It helped me realize there are so many things that can happen in a community."
"It made us realize that we have it better than a lot of countries, but we still have problems," added McKenna Savoy, another of Dawson’s students.
Mrs. Ladouceur’s Grade 6 class identified stray cats as an issue in Elmwood, and decided they could help make the lives of the homeless kitties better.
"There are quite a few stray cats in this neighbourhood," explained Amber Sharif, one of Ladouceur’s students. "Some mom cats can’t feed or help their litter. So they abandon them."
Sharif and her classmates built small cat-homes that could provide shelter for strays, to keep them out of the elements. The houses were raffled off at the celebration on June 15.
"I used to think cats were just cats, you know?" Sharif said. "But this changed my mind. I’ve seen how they suffer. I like cats now."
Following the classroom presentations, the school celebrated with a picnic and entertainment provided by The New Customs.
"It’s been quite the endeavour, but it’s what we felt was needed," Dawson said. "We wanted to just have a day to sit back and to look at everything that was done, break some bread, and share in some music. To celebrate all the good that was done this year."
"The celebration is the fourth step in our program," Duffy said. "It’s about the youth getting to see themselves reflected in the changes they’ve made. They did this. The community cares about what they’ve done, and they’ll feel empowered to do it again next year."
In September, Dawson said the program will start up again, with returning students picking new projects to undertake, and new students being introduced to the model.
"Every year students will go through the same process," Dawson said. "The hope is within five years that type of thinking towards sustainable issues and advocacy, that those components will be so in depth."
"Next year they’ll be more familiar with the program, and they’ll be able to go deeper to the root causes of issues," Duffy added. "They’ll be thinking differently about their community."
Sheldon Birnie is the reporter/photographer for The Herald. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112