Day 1 – Games, Dr. Jane and Welcomes

At 6:00 PM today, all 100 participants of the first ever Jane Goodall’s Global Youth Summit gathered in the warm late afternoon light to play an unusual ice breaker. Each group of 10-12, had to pick an endangered species and make up a song for that species. Once the group had picked a sound, all members of the group were blindfolded and here is what happened:

Each group had to find each other without making any noise except the noise that their endangered species makes. This highly amusing game kicked off the week by not just breaking the ice but introducing the participants to a few different summit themes such as cooperation and conservation.

Dr. Jane also arrived and gave a rousing and inspiring talk to the participants (below).

Jane spoke of how excited she was to see such a diverse group of people she even compared it to the very first youth summit held by the Jane Goodall Institute some eight years ago. She contrasted having 25 youth from five US cities at the first summit to having 100 youth from 28 countries at this summit! This event is a dream come true for Dr. Jane along with many other people including Shawn and myself. We are so excited to be together with our friends from across the world.

After Dr. Jane’s talk we all moved inside to enjoy a tasty opening dinner. We were given a warm welcome by Dr. Jackie Ogden, Vice President of Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives for Walt Disney World. There Dr. Ogden reflected on her personal hope for our future just by seeing and meeting all of us. What a great vote of confidence! Something that will for sure help us make this a successful week! Following Dr. Ogden’s words we heard from Pamela Mitchell, Program Specialist with the Diversity and Cause Marketing Department at Delta Air. Ms. Mitchell told us all about Delta’s community programs and how she was excited to see our Summit as a great addition to that programming.

Our keynote Speaker for our opening dinner was former Youth Fellow and current JGI Board of Directors member Chase Pickering. Chase shared with us how a trip to Antarctica inspired him to get involved in Roots & Shoots and apply for the National Youth Leadership Council. Finally Chase shared how happy he was to see that we were meeting here at Disney because it was two years ago that he was down here with Dr. Jane when we were first talking about having a large gathering of young people at Disney.

Following Chase, Mark Nieker, President and Executive of the Pearson Foundation, explained what the Pearson Foundation would be doing with the summit participants all week. A perfect follow up to Chase’s presentation, Mark explained the importance of taking stories like Chase’s and make them available to a wide audience and via the internet. There is no doubt that the Pearson workshops, focused on developing public service announcements will be a highlight of the summit.

We closed out our night with NEYLC Member Nicole Coakley sharing with us information about Well Wishes and Blessings a campaign to send inspiration from American students to students in Iraq. Then LA Roots & Shoots Volunteer, John Zavalney shared with us a presentation and information about International Day of Peace and encouraged us all to participate this year on September 21st.

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