Local youth leader brings back 'Message of Hope' from Jane Goodall's Global Youth Summit

Published: 12 May 2008 at 15:27

100 Young People from 28 Countries Participated in Life-changing Event

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Eighteen year old ecology student Jade Cawthray, from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, recently returned from a life-changing five-day trip to Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  Cawthray was one of 100 youth from six continents and 28 countries brought together by world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, to attend Jane Goodall’s Global Youth Summit. The first annual event, which took place at Walt Disney World Resort® mobilised the young leaders to address the critical issues facing the planet. At the Summit’s end, the attendees headed home with a commitment to make positive change happen and the hope that – together – they can make the world a better place.

Cawthray and her fellow participants were hand-picked by Dr Goodall, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and partner organisations to take part in the all-expenses-paid, first-of-its-kind event.  All attendees were outstanding young people with a strong history of community service and demonstrated leadership qualities. Cawthray, for example, has been helping Judy Fox, Cambridge University Botanical Garden’s Education Officer in the school garden, located on the site, as well as volunteering with the Cambridge Conservation Volunteers and encouraging other university students to lend some time.

Over the course of the Summit, the young people were able to dialogue with a dynamic panel of experts, share cross-cultural ideas, strengthen their leadership skills and create messages through digital media.  Perhaps most unique, they identified key issues and developed self-led workshops and discussions to tackle the topics that concerned them. They decided what they wanted to focus on whether it be species conservation, conflict resolution or some other pressing issue.

Working in small groups, the participants broke down transnational boundaries and gained firsthand knowledge about the cross-cultural collaboration needed to solve the world's greatest problems.  Each of these extraordinary young leaders left the Summit equipped with a “toolbox for changing the world” and individual action plans for protecting the future.  In the year following the Summit, the participants will work to implement their plans within their respective communities. Cawthray’s action plan follows a vision to increase the number of Roots & Shoots groups across the country and improve communication between the groups, so they can work together and create a bigger impact when supporting national and global issues.  This process will officially start on 21st September when she will be joined by many other Roots & Shoots members in London, for a Peace Day parade.

"The time I spent with these amazing young people has been incredibly stimulating and moving,"

said Dr Goodall. 

"I know I speak for everyone involved when I say we left the Summit energised, inspired and filled with a new hope for the future and new ideas for encouraging others to bring about a more peaceful world."

Participants at the Summit also had the opportunity to work with the Mobile Learning Institute, a Pearson Foundation – Nokia alliance.  The Mobile Learning Institute enabled the youth to create and share short digital films about the issues of greatest importance to them. Cawthray’s film focused on environmental degradation and held a powerful message of hope that young people will change the world for the better. She and the other attendees brought their finished films home and will use them to implement their customised action plan and local conservation efforts.

JGI’s core competencies in community-centered conservation and youth education made it particularly well-suited to organise the Summit.  Dr Goodall, who founded JGI in 1977, is inspirational ‘proof’ that one committed individual can make a world of difference. And her message of hope speaks directly to young people. Roots & Shoots, JGI’s global environmental and humanitarian youth program, has a proven track record of engaging young people in service-learning projects that benefit people, animals and the environment.  Dr Goodall began Roots & Shoots in 1991 with just a small group of Tanzanian students. Today, Roots & Shoots involves nearly 100,000 youth in almost 100 countries and it’s growing every day. The strength of the program is its unique methodology that highlights a youth-driven assessment process and identification of actual community needs. 

Dr. Goodall, JGI and all the participants expressed their gratitude to the Summit’s partners and corporate sponsors who share their commitment to the leaders of tomorrow. Without the support of Disney, Whirlpool Corporation, Delta Air Lines and the Mobile Learning Institute, the Summit would not have been possible. 

Working with these and other organisations, JGI hopes the Summit will grow in size and prestige to become the premier annual gathering for young leaders across the globe.

For more information about Jane Goodall’s Global Youth Summit, please visit www.globalyouthsummit.org. If you would like to get involved in Cawthray’s local projects, please contact her directly at jadelaurencawthray@hotmail.com.