For day 4 of the Big Give Christmas Challenge, we're returning to our schools programme, My 20 Trees and Me: Growing up Together, to see how the children and their trees are getting on...
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Right from the start of our 20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests Centenary Campaign, the schools programme ‘My 20 Trees and Me: Growing up Together’ was launched as a way of including the younger generation in the story of 20 Million Trees.
Children make up half of Kenya’s population and the current generation have a high rate of enrolment in formal education. It’s vital that young people are involved in gaining an understanding of their natural environment, as they will make up the next generation of land users. Children also have the ability to pass on learning to their wider family. Just like in the UK, in rural Kenya schools can be a valuable place to focus efforts for community education.
Back in July 2016, Mount Kenya Environmental Conservation (MKEC) launched ‘My 20 Trees and Me: Growing up Together’ in six local primary schools. 10 children from a class were chosen to plant and care for 20 trees each in the school’s grounds, totalling 200 trees at each school.
The trees were planted in the school compounds by children, teachers and volunteers from a local women’s group. While individual class members are responsible for a specific group of trees, the whole class takes part in watering and caring for them. Trees in schools can be particularly useful in very hot weather, providing shade for children and staff to play and eat under!
This year, ‘My 20 Trees and Me’ has grown, with three new primary schools planting their first 200 trees and each of the original schools planting a further 200 – bringing the total number to 3,000.
When ITF visited one of original schools in April this year, some of the trees planted in 2016 were already taller than the children who planted them! The children love to plant and look after their trees, and during our visit we heard poems in Swahili and English about the importance of tree planting and sustainable use of timber and forest resources.