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Once a year, our campus hosts an open house for prospective students and the general public. Thousands of people visit and hundreds of organizations put on displays, lectures and performances. We participated by conducting public outreach with other environmental groups to showcase best practices in sustainability on campus. We also taught visitors to fold origami animals out of one-side clean paper and write empowering, positive messages on them. We later distributed the paper animals to patients at the Children's Hospital of Oakland.
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The second grade class at Friends Academy formed a Roots & Shoots group this year. After studying about Jane Goodall and then the rainforests, they decided that the endangered habitat of the chimpanzees needed to be saved. As a group, these children decided to raise money within their school by collecting otherwise unused items such as recyclable cans and bottles and pennies. They set a goal of $100 (USD) in one month of collecting. The children made many awareness posters and a poster to chart their progress. They created four levels of goals, one for each layer of the rainforest, ($10 = the forest floor, $25=the understory $50=canopy $100= emergent layer.) They gathered plastic bins and decorated them with rainforest pictures to collect cans and bottles in around the school. They also decorated a 5 gallon water bottle to gather pennies in. The children took turns collecting and cashing in the recyclables and counting the pennies. One child brought the poster to the Roots & Shoots event at Western Connecticut State University and presented the project o Jane Goodall. The children were very excited that Jane Goodall actually saw and touched their poster. The group has decided to repeat this successful project again.
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We had a Baluku Bash, a celebration of our guardianship of Baluku, the orphan chimpanzee in Ngamba Sanctuary, Uganda. No party would be complete without Baluku cupcakes, each decorated with a B. We talked about the sanctuary, and why chimpanzees need sanctuary care when they are orphaned. What a great accomplishment for the children, who saved their change in jars ("Change for Chimps" jars) for months to reach the $100 needed for the sponsorship.
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We made animal collages to enclose in our next package to our pen pal group in Tanzania, the Nyankanga School Roots & Shoots. We just recently received letters from them and our members are eager to do more correspondence. In keeping with the Tanzanian theme, we read "We All Went on Safari" (Barefoot Books) which teaches us to count to ten in Swahili. We learned a few extra words as well: "Vizuri sana!" or "Excellent" (lit. "Great rhino!") and "Habari rafiki" ("How are you, partner?").
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We organized a group fundraiser. It was called "Swim for Malaria". The children got sponsors and swam laps in the local pool to raise funds for malaria nets/planting of neem trees in the area of Tanzania where our partnership group lives (Musoma). My daughter, 7 years old, swam 32 laps in an Olympic length pool! We raised $62.00 for the cause.
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"Where Does Our Food Come From?" was the theme of this meeting. We began by exploring the small kitchen garden in the back yard. We located a cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, and various herbs to smell. Next we did an activity when focused on what kind of food each member had for lunch or dinner and linked it back to the animal or plant it came from. We also included a "Hmmm" category for processed foods which had long lost their link to known ingredients. I had made cards with the names of animals and food groups on them for the members to hold up when they thought their card referred to the meal mentioned. I had printed out pictures of sustainable farms and factory farms to give them a sense of where our food really comes from. We looked at ingredients on several boxes and cans of food, and talked about the benefits of eating whole foods rather than processed. Next we did a taste test with regular and organic cucumbers and steamed zucchini. The organic zucchini won hands down, while the cucumbers were evenly split, although everyone agreed the organic cucumber looked better. Lastly, we talked about the power of writing letters. We wrote letters to the manager of our local Vons supermarket thanking them for selling organic foods and encouraging them to sell more. For the youngest members, we had a preprinted letter to which they signed their names and drew pictures.
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Laura, the leader of the group, volunteered at Dr. Jane's Peace Day in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA. I spent the day selling t-shirts and talking to anyone who would listen about the benefits of starting your own Roots & Shoots group. It was a lovely, inspiring day.
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This 24-hour walk-a-thon/marathon raised $60,515 to help the American Cancer Society in its mission to save lives, help those who have been touched by cancer and empower individuals to fight back. Our team raised $545.
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This free carnival provides fun games, prizes, arts and crafts booths and a moon bounce for children with Down's syndrome and other children in the community. We hosted a finger-painting booth, a bubble station and a mini-lacrosse game.
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This 12 hour dance-a-thon raised $23,547.14 for the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Student groups danced together and watched cultural performances from all over the world. Our team raised $220.

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