The Robert Kennedy Foundation awarded the students of the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES its Grand Prize for its video, “Voice of the Trees.” The student received word today, via Skype, from John Heffernan, director of the RFK Speak Truth to Power program.
The F. Donald Myers Education Center students submitted the video to the foundation’s “Speak Truth of Power” contest. Their work was selected among 150 videos submitted.
Hosted by student Sean Cross, the movie explores the efforts of Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Prize winner who stopped Kenya’s debilitating deforestation with her Green Belt Movement, a grassroots campaign that led groups of women to plant 15 million trees.
“I love what Wangari Maathai did,” said Cross. “She was told that she couldn’t do it. But that didn’t stop her. When she couldn’t get seeds, she picked seeds from trees and taught others to pick seeds from trees to plant trees everywhere. It takes just one person to make the world better.”
The students created the video as part of a unit on the environment. The students, inspired by Maathai’ movement, took their own environmental stand too. They collected plastic bags, which they sorted and cut into strips. The students then knitted and crocheted the strips into colorful, reusable shopping bags, doormats, and soda can cozies. The process – from collecting to crocheting – was also documented in the video.
All the items will be sold on Earth Day at the Myers Education Center. Proceeds will be donated to the Green Belt Movement, which has spread beyond Kenya and across Africa.
In addition to the Myers Education Center high school students, some of the younger special education students participated too by singing on the video.
As part of the prize, the students have been invited to the New York State United Teachers Union Representative Assembly in Buffalo at the end of April. The video will also be screened at the TriBeCa Film Festival in New York City on Sunday, April 29.
The video will reside permanently at the Museum of Tolerance in New York City.