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Roots and Shoots Teaches Kids Harmony

The smell of bananas and cinnamon bread drifted through the air as small feet pitter-pattered on the sidewalk. Berea College students welcomed youngsters with healthy snacks to celebrate the International Day of Peace. The third annual Roots and Shoots program, held at the Ecovillage, was initiated entirely by Berea students.

Participants learn about peace through fun activities.

The program serves as a way to inform children ranging in ages from 3 through 12 about environmental harmony, animal harmony and community harmony. The event is a part of the international Roots and Shoots program began by Dr. Jane Goodall, known internationally for her extensive studies of chimpanzee behavior in the African jungles.

Both parents and children joined in activities that promoted peace and harmony. These activities included dancing to peace songs, discussing peace, reading Dr. Seuss’s “Butter Battle Book” and flying the dove kite, the symbol of peace. Lane White, an energetic eight year old participant said, “I like the paints and dancing and I love the snacks!” Fingers, hands and the occasional knee were covered in paint to decorate a banner spelling out peace that would later be showcased in the Ecovillage. Smiles and giggles gave parents a peace of mind as they watched their youngsters play.

Yvonne Deshazior, the parent of two year old Anariah Powell, said, “I think the program helps Anariah to gain appreciation for where she lives and the environment; where as other places might not offer the same experiences.”

Now in its third year, the program is under going changes. As older members move on from the program, James (Herbie) Brock, a Berea student, will be heading the program as lead coordinator in the coming years. Discussing his goals for the program, he says, “I want it to be open to the whole community, not just Eco-village parents, but all non-traditional families.” Also, Brock added that he intends to add more cultural material to the program to help expand community harmony.

In 1991, Goodall began the Roots and Shoots program after meeting 16 Tanzanian students whose fascination with animal behavior and the state of the environment led them seek out other students with similar interest. These sixteen students would later develop the present day Roots and Shoots program, which is one of many programs supported by the Jane Goodall Foundation. Currently, the program involves more than 7,500 groups, ranging in size from 2 to 2,000 members who reside in more than 90 countries.

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