Sometimes, you just need to dance

Saving the world is not easy. In fact, it is a lot of work. And sometimes, you just need to let go, have some fun and dance.

GYS Participants Dancing

And that is exactly what participants at Jane Goodall’s Global Youth Summit did! After a few days of presentations, many discussions and a few too many hours indoors, a western themed vegetarian baroque was just what we needed.

The evening was hosted by Whirlpool, who have been a terrific sponsor of the Roots & Shoots program and one of the sponsor’s of the first Jane Goodall’s Global Youth Summit.

After enjoying a delicious vegetarian baroque, complete with chili, baked beans and baked potatoes, 100 youth from all around the world jumped on the dance floor for a little line dancing. Under the leadership of Cowboy Kip Sweeney (no relation to Shawn Sweeney!), we learned three different dances. Throw in a few y’alls and by the end of the night, youth from places like Sweden, Australia, Nigeria and China would have fit in just perfectly in any country-western dance hall or saloon throughout the Mid-Western United States.

After quite a bit of dancing, the group moved down to a a little lake where a number of camp fires where set up. The participants got a chance to chat with Dr. Jane while sipping hot chocolate and watching a crackling fire.

Fireside Chat with Dr. Jane

And would it have been a campfire without some songs? Although, you won’t find many campfires in the US surrounded by young people singing songs in Swahili, Disney is a magical place!

I think the night was so successful and well received because it gave young from around the world a chance to relax and just have some fun. It is safe to say that it was a night that will be remembered by all who where there.

Photos by Michelle Bot


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.

Jane Goodall’s Global Youth Summit


You might have noticed the recent lull in activity on the blog. The reason for the lull is Jane Goodall’s Global Youth Summit. The entire Roots & Shoots staff is working 24/7 (almost literally) to finish up preparations for the summit, which kicks off in just about a week on the 19th.

This summit is really exciting! With 100 participants coming from 28 different countries, the summit represents a step towards a truly global network of young people working together to change the world.

The summit will feature numerous speakers who are experts in their given fields along with many workshops focused on giving participants the skills they need to lead the next generation. Perhaps most exciting, each participant will leave the summit with concrete actions that they will implement when they return home.

Some other unique features of the summit will include:

  • Dr. Jane Goodall, of course.
  • Disney World, our host for the summit.
  • N.A.P Time, New Action Potential Time- this will be a chance for youth participants to lead discussions or given workshops.
  • Youth Master of Ceremonies, yours truly and Shawn Sweeney will be MCing the event and each speaker will be introduced by a youth participant to minimize the amount of time that adults are leading the summit.
  • Pearson Foundation’s Digital Arts Workshop, The Pearson Foundation will be equipping participants with the skills they need to record, direct, edit and produce hip and eye catching PSAs.
  • And much much more…

And guess what? You can hear about every workshop, every speaker and every discussion right here! Shawn and I will be blogging throughout the event in our special Fellow Blog: Live from the Summit Edition! So get your RSS feed ready, tell a friend and be sure to stay tuned from the 19th to the 25th for Jane Goodall’s Global Youth Summit!