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Rome, 8/11. Today Istituto Marymount in Rome, Italy, was awarded Climate Action Project School of Excellence. Only 250 schools globally were recognized because of their intense work on climate education in a whole-school approach. There were only 5 schools in all of Italy. The recognition was awarded by Cartoon Network and Climate Action Project. The webinar was streamed live at the COP26 in Glasgow.

Cartoon Network Climate Champions is a climate change awareness initiative that sets out to inspire kids to take on daily challenges that collectively can make a big difference to the health of our planet. It has been developed in collaboration with WWF, a world-renowned environmental organization.

Climate Action Project is a free, global education project that was launched by Take Action Global, an education nonprofit based in the USA, involving 2,700,000 teachers and students across 146 countries. The project aims to help students learn about the climate crisis in authentic ways and disseminate solutions online. 

The recognized schools submitted their work for the past year and met extensive criteria, including a school-wide commitment to climate education and student solutions. 

Istituto Marymount has started a “Treedom Project: freely eco-sustainable neighborhoods.” At the beginning of the school year, the school involved students in writing words and phrases to create an artistic installation to hang from the branches of a tree in the school garden. Students responded with enthusiasm and intense participation, demonstrating sensitivity and respect for the natural environment that surrounds us. Now the school is working to develop a collaboration with the municipal bodies in charge with the aim of raising awareness in the city community towards the protection of our environment. Students intervene in such a way that they tend to promote and encourage ways to stop climate change. Students feel empowered to make changes.

The 250 schools selected as Climate Action Project Schools of Excellence were announced on November 4, 2021 during Climate Action Day, an annual online live event attended by 250,000 people globally. The event speakers included Prince William, President James Alix Michel, Seychelles, Rick Davis, NASA, Matt Larsen-Daw, WWF, Princess Esmeralda, Belgium, Juan Pablo Celis Garcia, UN Environment Programme, and other world leaders, climate scientists, and activists.

The winners were announced by Dan Russell, the voice actor behind several characters in Cartoon Network global hit series The Amazing World of Gumball, and Nandi Bushell, an 11-year-old musician, an influencer and passionate climate advocate. 

Prince William’s statement “We need youth’s creativity to repair our planet. We need students to invent and to innovate – to think beyond where we are now and to be optimistic about our future.”

Koen Timmers, the creator of the Climate Action Project, said: “There is no vaccine for climate change.” Amy Bivin, a teacher at the Marymount Institute, says “The Cure is ACTION! No matter how small one is, one action at a time, one day at a time with a positive mindset, we can make a difference! The best way to act is through EDUCATION. By teaching children about climate change, we raise awareness and empower them to solve the problem and stop the damage caused by previous generations. We only have one planet and we need it more than it needs us.” 

Dr. Jennifer Williams, Climate Action Project, said: “Our community of educators have come together in support of climate education for all. We are committed to ensuring students have access to information, ideas, and opportunities to take action for the planet, and, today, these Schools of Excellence are leading the way for the entire world.” 

Here is the link to the list of Schools of Excellence: https://climate-action.info/schools-excellence

Here is the online certificate: https://climate-action.info/download/SoE-certificate.pptx

This year all 3rd graders participated in the annual global project for Climate Action from October to December. During this student-centered project, we embraced 21st Century learning skills to better understand the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number 13: Climate Action. Despite COVID-19 we escaped classroom barriers and “traveled” around the world by connecting with students across the globe. Throughout this project the students collaborated through research, brainstorming and discussion and creating posters. 3B created original songs and choreographed their own dance moves and produced several videos with creativity.

Week 1: The first week the students focused on the causes of Climate Change both locally and globally. The students broke into groups to investigate: Pollution, Extreme Weather, Ice Caps Melting, Oceans Rising, Deforestation and Endangered Animals.

Week 2: In the 2nd week the students concentrated on the effects of Climate Change locally. Italy is a peninsula so they concluded we are mostly affected by: glaciers melting in the Alps so the seas levels are rising and this causes coastal erosion. The rising temperatures cause droughts and fires and increased rainfall causes floods. 

Week 3: This week they looked beyond Italy and explored the effects of Climate Change around the world. Italy has more of problem with coastal erosion but many other places have problems with more extreme weather like hurricanes and tornados in the USA and tsunamis in southeast Asia. This year there were so many serious fires like in Australia, California and the Amazon. Also in some places in Asia sometimes schools are closed because of pollution. One common global factor is the Coronavirus. Students watched a video message from Jane Goodall, where she indicated COVID is partly caused by animal displacement from climate change. This is a truly a global effect!!

Week 4: This week was dedicated to finding solutions for the Climate Change. Their first action started at the beginning of the school year by not using single-use plastic water bottles (a big problem in Italy) at school and even the cafeteria introduced carafes. They want to take it one step further next year and introduce a “Meatless Monday” to raise awareness about preserving land and water resources.   

Our final week the students resolved to take action through virtual (live) interactions. Everyone participated in a global Webinar with speakers from NASA, WWF, UN, students around the world and even several celebrities. 3B connected with several classes around the world to share findings and discuss solutions with students in Pakistan, India, Russia Hungary and Croatia.

Our students worked very hard but had so much fun learning about important global issues that will have a long-term effect on their lives. 3B concluded the project by writing a letter to President Mattarella, asking for help in spreading the news and to other students in Italy so they can learn about the importance of studying Climate Change. We will continue our studies of the sustainable development goals and work hard to leave our planet in a better condition than we found it by working together to solve the problem. The students say: “We may be small but by working together, taking it one step at a time, we can make a change.”

Amy Alison Bivin