Michelle was first INSPIRED to join Roots & Shoots when she won a grant to design a service-learning team with her fourth and fifth graders at PS 56 in Staten Island, New York. The goal was for students to determine areas of need in their community and to identify solutions themselves. “The kids were to come up with everything, from start to finish,” she says. Her role was to facilitate—not to lead but to support students when they needed it.
The team started by using the Roots & Shoots Community Mapping Tool to explore the needs of people, animals, and the environment around them. In mapping their community, they OBSERVED that there was a pond near the school that was littered with trash, and they started to see connections between their community and the larger world: The pond led to a creek that eventually reached the ocean. Students felt strongly that if they could clean up the pond and keep it clean, says Michelle, then “we, ourselves here in our little community, we wouldn’t be polluting into the Atlantic Ocean.” That was the spark that propelled them into ACTION.