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Make A Wish For The Planet

wishkidsChildren are the future but what kind of world will we leave behind for them if we are not educating them sufficiently about climate chance, deforestation, reforestation, self-sufficiency and green living? A great way to start is by planting a tree with them and the following #listicle offers 4 reasons why this is a fantastic idea!

1.) Planting a tree is a great way for your child to appreciate nature.IMG_5293
In these modern times, children are spending more and more time indoors and in front of screens. Stepping outside to plant a tree is a wonderful opportunity for them to appreciate the beauty of nature in all its splendor. By nature, children are curious and love exploring new places (even if it is their own back garden!) and they should, therefore be encouraged to take part in the planting of the tree as much as possible.

2) Planting a tree teaches responsibility.
Once the tree has been planted, give your child the responsibility of watering the young tree. This responsibility will teach them a valuable lesson in caring for and nurturing another living thing. It should also foster respect for nature.

cedar43) Planting a tree is educational.
Not only is planting a tree incredibly fun and good for the environment, but it is also educational. The tree planting process teaches your child essential knowledge about soil, seed germination, plant nutrition and tree growth.

4) Planting a tree plays a part in inspiring children to become involved in protecting the environment.
During the process, your child will no doubt ask you for the reason why you are planting the tree. This is the ideal opportunity for you to explain to them the many benefits of planting trees. This conversation can have a highly positive effect on your child’s long-term interest in protecting and sustaining our environment and natural resources.

Make a wish.
You can ask your child what they love about nature and if they have a wish for the planet. If they want they (or parents and teachers) can post it here to send out their wish to the world: http://www.charitree-foundation.org/wish4theplanet/

photo-1Also anyone can post wishes on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat with these tags #wish4theplanet and @wish4theplanet and send #goodkarma out – now when the world needs it most.

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The ChariTree Foundation That Has Inspired So Many Celebrates 10 Years

More than 100,000 children have planted Wish Trees across Canada and around the world

unnamed-1Vancouver, BC — 12/04/2016 –Without access to a healthy climate, children will be bereft of their fundamental rights to life. A perfect storm is brewing due to this happening at a time when the screen generation is being raised with less meaningful contact with nature.

Right now, the future stewards of the environment are growing in a world of change and distraction. As they play endless games on their screens, the world’s forests are disappearing, temperatures and sea levels are on the rise, and more extreme weather is in the forecast. Ten of millions of lives and the lives of generations to come are sure to be impacted as they are set-up to bear a disproportionate share of the burden of climate change.

The ChariTree Foundation was founded 10 years ago by Andrea Koehle Jones. She explained, “ChariTree grew out of my wish to help children and the world.”

There is so much uncertainty in the world, so instead of waiting around for leaders to agree on appropriate solutions, Koehle Jones was inspired to act to create a program to encourage kids to be part of the solution.

dscf0162_29-jun-08_masters“Since 2009, thanks to ChariTree, thousands of campers in hundreds of camps across Canada have planted trees on their camp properties. This excellent program has enabled children to experience the joy and satisfaction of planting their very own tree while beautifying their site, creating windbreaks or replacing trees lost to fire or disease,” said Jill Dundas, President, the Canadian Camping Association (CCA). “As the trees grow under the campers’ continuing care so does their appreciation and concern for our environment.”

Koehle Jones thinks one of the best ways to teach environmental education is to give kids a tree of their own to plant. She said: “It’s about learning to care for something beyond yourself while learning about self-sufficiency, reforestation, trees as future food sources and so much more.”

When children receive a Wish Tree through their school, camp or other children’s organizations, they get to plant it and make a wish for the world. Every time they return to visit or care for their tree they can make more wishes – for anything! They can write their wishes on 100% recycled paper and tie them to their tree or simply say their wish by their tree.

Here are just a few wishes sent into The ChariTree Foundation by children.photo-1

Aidan, from Hamilton, Canada says:
“I wish I had super powers to save the earth and save people.”

Lisa, from Copenhagen, Denmark says:
“I wish more people would plant trees.”

Debbie, from Calgary, Canada says:
“My wish for the planet would be to bring more natural beauty to all the cities. I wish for our empty boulevards to be planted with evergreens, and remind us that with more nature that our world will be a much better place.”

Shannon, from West Bolton, Canada says:
“I wish everyone would deeply understand that trees are the lungs of the earth, and we all breathe together…”

“I am so proud of every child that has planted a tree in the last ten years,” said Koehle Jones. “These kids are going to be changemakers,” she continued.

“Helping a child plant a tree might seem like a small thing but imagine if all children were given an opportunity to plant a tree,” said Koehle Jones. “What if children in Syria or Somalia or Canada – anywhere were given this opportunity? The benefits would directly impact those children and children everywhere.”

The ChariTree Foundation strives to give as many children as possible a tree of their own. It’s about supporting environmental education programs for children by giving kids a tree to plant at their home, camp or school that is native to their region ~ and an opportunity to connect with nature and contribute positively to the world.

Arlington Beach CampThis year more than 13,000 campers at Canadian Camping Association camps planted trees across Canada thanks to ChariTree’s wonderful private and corporate donors especially our top done, Green Inspiration BC.

“Thank you for this continuing opportunity. We value the focus The ChariTREE Foundation provides to involve our campers in forest sustainability.” ~ Jocelyn Palm, Director / Owner, Glen Bernard Camp

“There is something hopeful in the act of planting a tree. Our campers enjoy enhancing our habitats, increasing bio-diversity and just being in nature. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity. You are growing hope for a greener future.” ~ Jacob Rodenburg, Executive Director, Camp Kawartha

So far, more than 100,000 children have received trees, and Koehle Jones hopes to give millions of children trees in the future.

IMG_5293“Without healthy trees and forests, the earth cannot sustain life. There’s something so hopeful about planting trees,” said Jones. “I’ll never forget the children we planted trees with in Africa and I’ll never stop trying to bring more children trees.”

Andrea runs the charity from a tiny office on an island off the coast of Vancouver. She volunteers her time and works with a small group of volunteers devoting 100 percent of donations to running ChariTree’s children’s tree projects.

“I am so grateful to all the volunteers, and donors who have helped The ChariTree Foundation grow over the last ten years,” said Koehle Jones.13063131_10154154220249605_973592909128919604_o-1

She hopes more and more people will hear about The ChariTree Foundation and will donate to support the project. “We plant trees based on the amount of funding we bring in through donations and requests for trees from children’s organizations.

To learn more about the ChariTree Foundation and to offer support, please visit www.charitree-foundation.org

About The ChariTree Foundationcharitree_logo-10yrs-line
The ChariTree foundation was set up by Andrea Koehle Jones. It has the aim to make the world a better place for children and generations of children to come.

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Kids want to help because our climate change solutions aren’t working fast enough  

Vancouver, BC — 12/05/2016 — The future stewards of the environment are growing in a world of disappearing forests, rising temperatures and sea levels, and more extreme weather. Without access a healthy climate, tens of millions of lives and the lives of generations to come are sure to be impacted as children everywhere are being set-up to bear a disproportionate share of the burden of climate change, says Andrea Koehle Jones, Founder and Executive Director, The ChariTree Foundation. “Climate change is a serious problem and our response, frankly, isn’t enough.”

Glen Bernard Camp 2Koehle Jones founded The ChariTree Foundation ten years ago. This national children’s charity is dedicated to getting kids outside and being part of the climate change solution by planting trees. The ChariTree Foundation has given more than 100,000 children trees in Canada and around the world to plant and has set a goal of giving a million children a tree to plant in the next ten years.

She says we’ve already seen some great progress. But there’s still work to do. That’s why she has been working on one way to help change the way we heal the planet. Koehle Jones feels kids can be part of the solution and learn to take care of the planet they are inheriting. “Kids care about the world,” Koehle Jones says. “They’re very connected to their environment and they want to help heal the planet  — if we let them.”

I love working with children and I am so inspired by their deep connection to nature. It doesn’t seem fair to leave them with a world ravaged by climate change. The best I can think to do is to arm them with the tools to live in it and help fix it.

13063131_10154154220249605_973592909128919604_o-1“If children are going to make a lifelong commitment to protect the environment for themselves and future generations, they first need time to explore the wonders of nature,” she says. “One of the best ways to teach environmental education is to give kids a tree of their own to plant. It’s about learning to care for something beyond yourself while learning about self-sufficiency, reforestation, trees as future food sources and the benefits of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction.”

2014-07-02-11.41.39When a child plant a tree in Canada for example, they are making an immediate contribution to their community and at the same time they are helping kids on the other side of the world by helping to stabilize the climate.

Children are the future stewards of the environment.They want to help So let’s let them. This is an idea rooted in generosity, love, and compassion. “What if we gave every child, everywhere a tree to plant? And not just any tree – a locally grown, non-gmo, native tree species?”

She says The ChariTree Foundation would purchase the trees from local growers, boosting local economies and then children could plant a tree at their home, school, camp and / or children’s organization. In this way kids learn how to plant and care for a tree and how to have a positive impact on the world.

“Since 2009, thanks to ChariTree, thousands of campers in hundreds of camps across Canada have planted trees on their camp properties. This excellent program has enabled children to experience the joy and satisfaction of planting their very own tree while beautifying their site, creating windbreaks or replacing trees lost to fire or disease,” said Jill Dundas, President, the Canadian Camping Association (CCA). “As the trees grow under the campers’ continuing care so does their appreciation and concern for our environment.”

Wish Trees

“ChariTree grew out of my wish to help children and the world,” says photo-1Koehle Jones.

When children receive a Wish Tree, they get to plant it and make a wish for the world. Every time they return to visit or care for their tree they can make more wishes – for anything! They can write their wishes on 100% recycled paper and tie them to their tree or simply say their wish by their tree.

“I wish everyone would deeply understand that trees are the lungs of the earth, and we all breathe together,” says Shannon an elementary school student from West Bolton, Ontario.

“I am so proud of every child that has planted a tree in the last ten years,” said Koehle Jones. “These kids are going to be changemakers,” she continued.DSC_0159

“Helping a child plant a tree might seem like a small thing but imagine if all children were given an opportunity to plant a tree,” said Koehle Jones.

The ChariTree Foundation strives to give as many children as possible a tree of their own. It’s about supporting environmental education programs for children by giving kids a tree to plant at their home, camp or school that is native to their region ~ and an opportunity to connect with nature and contribute positively to the world.

Two ways you can help right now:

  1. Go outside and with your kids and do something to help the planet, for example, pick up a piece of garbage in a park. Share your feelings about how wonderful the world is and why it is important to take care of it.
  2. Grow this work with a donation.

Yes — I will donate to help kids combat climate change!

Let’s educate and empower kids so together we can create a better future for kids in Canada and around the world.

Media Contact
Andrea Koehle Jones
Executive Director
info@charitree-foundation.org
charitree-foundation.org

 

 

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Skiing During a MS Relapse

Adventures of a brave ski mom trying to show her kids that everything is okay when sometimes it isn’t

By Andrea Koehle Jones

skiing

Vancouver, BC — 12/07/2016 —  I think that being a ski mom takes a lot of energy and bravery. I’ve always been brave but energy, now that’s been my challenge for more than 20 years. Last March, I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).

This form of MS comes and goes unpredictably.  It is a major neurological disease that has explained my energy crisis that causes a complete and relentless exhaustion I can’t explain to anyone who doesn’t have MS. My MRI shows so many lesions in my brain and on my spinal cord that my neurologists say I have been living with the disease for more than 20 years.

Anyone who knows me knows that I ‘live in the clouds’ plus I’m not one to complain, so I feel somewhat responsible for the delay in my diagnosis. I guess I wasn’t ready to know.

I have coped over the years by developing hacks, downplaying my symptoms and focussing on the positive.  I mainlined sugar to give me the energy I needed to accomplish all the things I want to accomplish in this lifetime. Since my diagnosis, I’ve kept my chin up with my usual tremendous optimism, determined hopefulness and my life-long ‘suck it up buttercup’ attitude.

The mountains were calling…

I inherited my optimism from my Dad and then evolved it to new heights.  He now calls himself a realist in comparison to my spectacular optimism. He is the one who taught me to ski at Talisman Mountain Resort when I was five and later at Devil’s Glen. I grew up in a ski family. My parents met skiing in the 1950s at The High Park YMCA Ski Club. My mom was the secretary and my dad was the president of the High Park YMCA Ski Club. He was also the president of The Southern Ontario Ski Zone of the Canadian Ski Association and a member of The Canadian Ski Patrol in Ontario.

My husband Dave and I met 20 years ago working as journalists in the CBC TV newsroom in Toronto. A love for skiing was something we both shared. So when we moved to Vancouver it seemed natural to get engaged on top of Cypress Mountain after a terrific day of skiing. Today my kids race for the Cypress Ski Team and I am on the board in charge of racer recruitment. Our home even looks across the ocean to Cypress Mountain.

Dave’s mom skied at Cypress Mountain as a teen and his father was a member of The Canadian Ski Patrol in British Columbia so clearly my kids have skiing in their blood too.

47a6da30b3127cce9854961e7ae400000030100bauwbfy2zs9I love being a ski mom. I became a ski mom the first time my kids skied at Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler. My son was four and my daughter two. I drove the VW van between two parking lots on Blackcomb Mountain and Dave skied down the mountain taking turns with each child on the ski runs between the two lots. We thought the chairlift would be too much for their first time. The next winter, Dave and I taught them to ski at Big White and later enrolled them in lessons – the rest is history. Our family has been skiing ever since. Today the kids train four times a week taking a ferry from our home on an island off the coast of Vancouver to get to Cypress Mountain, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

A ski mom is expected to drive to and from the hill for training, from mountain to mountain for races, she hauls equipment, get the kids to do homework in the car on the way to the mountain, carries chapstick, energy bars and first aid supplies… everything for any mountain situation. And is always there to provide encouragement after disappointing races or crashes.

Ski moms also volunteer for the club. In addition to being on the board, I have trained as an Alpine Canada race official and slipped race courses, been a gate judge and a scoreboard keeper at races including The Whistler Cup, The Hub International Nancy Greene Festival at Sun Peaks and several races at Cypress Mountain.

If you aren’t crashing, you aren’t skiing

Everything finally unravelled in November 2015. I took my children to their first ski training camp of the season . It just so happened it coincided with a final push to write 50,000 words in one month for my novel project. The Hummingbird Trees is a young adult dystopian story about a world threatened by climate change and a young empath with a special connection to trees who could change everything. I had been working on it for several years and November 30, 2015 was the goal I had set to complete the draft. As a former CBC Newsworld and Newsworld International writer and producer I am great at meeting  deadlines – at all costs, so of course, I met my deadline. I successfully navigated the kids through two training camps at Sun Peaks, in the British Columbia interior. I got them geared-up and on the hill, attended all of their daily ski video sessions and skied so they saw me on the hill too.

Moments after finishing the latest draft of my book on November 30, 2015 I first felt the numbness in my hand. For weeks afterwards, I told myself it was from the long drive home from Sun Peaks or a pinched nerve from lugging ski gear or the hours spent writing on my laptop. I saw a GP who said I simply needed a massage!!?!

One month later, the numbness spread up my left arm down my left side and across my chest and abdomen. By this time I was in Europe travelling to visit my brother and family in France and skiing through Switzerland. I was not going to let a strange numbness or fatigue stop me from skiing with my family in a once in a lifetime trip to the Alps.

My three favourite doctors, my brother, my sister-in-law and my father-in-law on my return to Canada suggested I get a second opinion. The MRI was ordered but was six months away so I paid for a private MRI. The results were shocking and life-changing.

Eventually the numbness receded only to my left hand. It has now been over a year that my left hand has been numb and nothing reverses it so I type with one hand and I’m not great at tiny motor skill tasks but I still can do a lot and I’m grateful for that.

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

Like so many of you, I have struggles everyday. I live with uncertainty, dealing with a major neurological illness, on top of several other challenging medical issues. This fall I suffered another major relapse that affected my swallowing and led to a chronic cough and a month of vomiting  (lovely!) plus two rounds of aspiration pneumonia. It felt like someone had their hand around my neck strangling me. This was very frightening but I carried on with everything hoping it would go away. It didn’t. In early December I finally received three days of high-powered IV steroids at Lions Gate Hospital and those symptoms immediately resolved. I was so happy that all I wanted to do was run away and go skiing. I believe there is healing in nature, in the trees and the mountains that surround all of us. My kids had their first training camp of the season scheduled for Sun Peaks that week and I wanted them to see me on skis so they wouldn’t worry about me any more and they could get on with their life.

“Any life-changing event also changes your relationships. It isn’t just you who has to learn to adapt; everyone else has to learn to deal with the new normal,” Ann Romney, diagnosed with RRMS in 1998.

dsc_0561Dave and the kids have been very upset since my diagnosis. I explain to them often that they never knew me without the disease but my daughter says it is hard to know and she wishes we didn’t know. She regularly asks to miss school to stay by my side at home or at the hospital. This is a kid who previously loved school. And my son has grown-up a lot this year. He used to think I was magical and could do anything. Now he knows I can’t. Even though the cause of MS is unknown I worry for my kids and am doing everything to keep them healthy, active and outside as much as possible even here on our rainy coast – hence skiing.

Skiing is a dance, and the mountain always leads

I was determined to ski last weekend and I did. Mostly to show Dave and the kids that I’m okay. I was upset because I had to take a few breaks on the way down because I was feeling so poorly but Dave reminded me that that was because I was skiing during a relapse at the same time as I was coming off steroids.  It wasn’t until later that night that I wondered if it is okay to do strenuous exercise during a relapse.

12719155_10207410074463517_262672293347911523_o-1The thing is that when you get diagnosed, nobody tells you much. You don’t even get a pamphlet or a session with a nurse to offer practical advice. Anyways all that means you are very much on your own to advocate for yourself. I am very lucky to have Dave and my brothers to help me but I have still spent a lot of time with Dr. Google trying to figure things out. There were no articles about skiing during a relapse and some articles that said you shouldn’t do strenuous exercise during a relapse or you can worsen your symptoms. Any time I ask my neurologist questions like this he just says: “Live your life.” I find this unsettling, like he is saying “…while you can.” I’m sure he doesn’t mean it that way but still.

A MS diagnosis can be isolating too. Even though Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world and I live in the part of the country with the most cases of MS, I have yet to meet someone with RRMS. I am sure she is out there – my RRMS soulmate, similar in age and disease so we could compare symptoms and encourage each other. I’m sure I’ll meet her one day soon because my life is like that.

I always heard that my mother’s youngest cousin had MS. I only saw her a handful of times in my life but she was someone I instantly liked. Smart, beautiful, funny and full of life. Today she is vibrant in her early 70s – she gives me hope.

They say MS is a different disease for everyone because of where their lesions are located. For me, symptoms of my disease didn’t appear suddenly but looking back it is clear I experienced major relapses  in my 20s, possibly late teens and after my children were born and since then. Over the years my symptoms were tenuous and easily dismissed. In addition to the fatigue, there were several rounds of vertigo, MS Hugs (a scary symptom of MS where you feel as if you have a tight band around your chest or ribs or making it difficult to breathe), occasional numbness and weakness,  sometimes I would trip, and then there were the crashes on the ski hill resulting in three serious concussions in two years as I tried to keep up with my kids on jumps and boxes in the terrain park and even racing the occasional slalom gates for fun once the kids cleared the course. They have since banned me from the terrain parks.

My diagnosis came months after my Mom’s lengthy illness and death. She never knew I had MS. I feel sad that she didn’t know because then she could have cheered me up about it and do all the things good moms do when you are sick but that was not meant to be for me.

Special thanks to my dear friend who has the type of wisdom that only having a child with incurable cancer can manifest. She told me I have this disease for a reason, and that as a writer, I should consider writing to raise awareness about MS or to help find a cure for MS.

Honestly the last thing I want to do is write about MS. I don’t like to show vulnerability and I spend my life diverting attention from myself to Dave, my kids and my cause which until now has been environmental education, getting kids outside and  and connecting with nature by running a children’s charity, partnering in a world-changing venture capital firm and and writing children’s books.

One of the first things I did once diagnosed was work with my Dad and The Koehle Family Foundation to help other people get diagnosed sooner by supporting a UBC research project identifying prodromal signs of multiple sclerosis. I’m a cause-driven girl and knowing that I can be part of helping someone else, helps me immeasurably. When people are diagnosed early with RRMS they can take medications to slow the progression of the disease and lessen the number of relapses and resulting damage. I am still searching for an appropriate medication that my body can tolerate.

That said, I’m big on authenticity. I think if we only have one life we should live it as truly and bravely as possible – so this is me, right now.

Live. Breathe. Ski.

These days I drink a lot of green shakes, exercise when I can, rest lots, live in the moment, and I’m learning to say no to anyone or anything that stresses me. I also incorporate gratitude, prayer and meditation into my life – although I always did that. All I want to do in this life is complete The Hummingbird Trees, find a great agent and a great publisher and have the book reach and inspire sensitive children around the world — otherwise I plan to carry on helping the world with my causes, focusing on reversing my MS and spending time with those I love most – and ski!

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So, there you have it.  Please don’t send me MS articles, I already read them. If you feel anything for me, let it be hope, happiness and gratitude and please include me, my family and anyone struggling anywhere in your prayers.  Hope, happiness and gratitude are my guiding life principles and I want to share them with all of you each and every day. I am hopeful, happy and grateful for my life just as it is – all of it and especially my super-supportive husband and darling children, my father, my brothers, my family, friends and supporters.

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Love Trees founder is a a 2015 Nature Inspiration Award finalist!

hdr_natureaward_eCongratulations to Love Trees and ChariTREE Foundation founder Andrea Koehle Jones, she is a 2015 Nature Inspiration Award finalist! Read more here: http://nature.ca/en/about-us/museum-corporation/nature-inspiration-awards/2015-finalists …

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Free trees for children across Canada

For the seventh year, CCA partners with Andrea Koehle Jones, Executive Director of the ChariTREE Foundation, to offer free trees for children at all Canadian camps. Feedback confirms that this program inspires and educates campers while serving practical needs for camps.

This program is open to all Canadian camps, including those that planted trees in previous years. Given the known benefits to camps and campers, we urge all camps to join the program in a big or small way.

Glen Bernard Camp 2Ordering

By April 7, 2015, contact your provincial representative (listed below) and place your order including the number of trees and the location where they will be planted. You may chose to plant between 40 and 800 trees.

Andrea accesses the trees from nurseries in each province; therefore, the seedlings are suitable for growing conditions in your province.

The trees are packed in packages of 20 in cardboard boxes.

Delivery

You will be notified by your representative precisely when (the date will be within the last two weeks of June) and where the trees are available for pick up in your province.

Andrea’s commitment is to deliver the total order for each province to one location, which is chosen by the provincial representative. Your representative will notify each participating camp of this location prior to submitting your order. Each camp is responsible for collecting their order from this location or pre-arranging to pay for delivery to their campsite.

Andrea has found that Greyhound bus is the least expensive way to ship seedlings. If you do not receive your seedlings on the expected date, please notify your provincial representative.

The trees may be stored in a dark, cool location for a maximum of two weeks before planting.

The camp agrees to:

Go online promptly and acknowledge the receipt of their trees directly to Andrea. Andrea needs this information to satisfy her donors that their contribution is being used wisely and assists her in seeking future donations. Camps that do not meet this obligation will forgo the opportunity to access free trees in future years.
Plant their trees with their campers within two weeks.
Water the seedlings if the weather is dry.

For more information on Andrea Koehle Jones and the ChariTREE Foundation see www.charitree-foundation.org

Provincial Representatives

Alberta
Kathy Koehler (koehler.gk@gmail.com)

Saskatchewan
Donna Wilkinson (donnaw@sasktel.net)

Manitoba
Liz Kovach (lkovach@manitobacamping.ca)

Ontario
Nicole Markowitz (nicole@ontariocamps.ca)

Quebec
Julie Payeur (developpement@camps.qc.ca)

New Brunswick
John Savage (john@campcentennial.ca)

Nova Scotia & P.E.I
Derek Mitchell (derekmitchell@venturepartner.ca)

Newfoundland and Labrador
Malcolm Turner (killdevil.camp@gmail.com)

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How to be a Hummingbird Environmentalist

by Andrea Koehle Jones

IMG_3478-e1351346304680-224x300More than ever I am feeling overwhelmed thinking about all the problems in the world. Every day we are seeing new and undeniable climate events and it can be hard to see what one person or family can really do to help.

I first heard the hummingbird fable from Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai. It’s a beautiful story about a massive forest fire and the courageous efforts of a tiny hummingbird to help.

All the animals in the forest watched a huge forest fire getting bigger and bigger. They felt so overwhelmed and powerless, except for a little hummingbird. It said, “I’m going to do something about the fire.”

The little hummingbird flew to the closest stream, scooped-up a drop of water and put it on the huge fire. Then she went back to the stream and did it again. She kept going back, again and again and again. All the other animals watched, some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, “Don’t bother, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop of water, you can’t put out this fire.”

And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the hummingbird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then an elephant shouted out to the hummingbird in a mocking voice, “What do you think you are doing?” And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, “I am doing the best I can.”

The collective impact of one small thing

It’s not hard to be a hummingbird environmentalist. This week for example I thought, “What’s one thing I can I do differently?” I decided to take the kids to the store but instead of driving, as we usually do, we bicycled. At first I didn’t feel like it, but we ended up having a really great time.

Forty percent of all trips are made within two miles of home. If individuals and families choose to bike or walk to work, or to make fewer shopping trips each week, they could really help the planet (and their wallet).

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Become a Hummingbird Environmentalist

Anyone can be a Hummingbird Environmentalist. It is about having an open heart, thinking beyond yourself, and being willing to try something new – even fun – once in a while. We can all do one thing better. Here are three ideas that I hope get you inspired.

  1. Incorporate public transit into your next family outing – if your kids are like mine, they will love the chance to take the bus or train
  2. Make a hummingbird craft with your kids – it’s a great way to share the hummingbird fable and show them that anyone, no-matter how small, can help make the world a better place.
  3. Plant a tree with your child or make a donation to a children’s environmental education charity that gives kids trees like Canada’s ChariTree Foundation. If children are going to make a lifelong commitment to protect the environment for themselves and future generations, they first need time to explore the wonders of nature. One of the best ways to teach environmental education is to give kids a tree of their own to plant. It’s about learning to care for something, self-sufficiency, reforestation, trees as future food sources and so more than anything, its about empowering children and showing how they can help make the world a better place.

 

Andrea Koehle Jones is the Executive Director of The ChariTREE Foundation and Love Trees, the author of the children’s book The Wish Trees, and a Hummingbird Environmentalist.

Photos by Andrea Koehle Jones

* You can also see this article featured on Hello Vancity.

 

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If a seedling is planted in a forest does anybody notice?

It took a cross-country trip to see that ChariTree is really starting to take root

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ChariTree Wish Tree planted several years ago at Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg.

If a seedling is planted in a forest does anybody notice? This summer on a drive back to British Columbia from Ontario with my family I learned the answer is a definite yes. For the last five years, the Charitree Foundation – a children’s environmental tree planting charity I founded in 2006 – has been giving trees to campers at Canadian Camping Association (CCA) camps across Canada. In that time, children at CCA camps across Canada have planted nearly 100,000 trees.

Every year I receive encouraging photos and reports from camps about the program. Comments like these make  me feel like I am doing something important and ChariTree is on the right track:

“We successfully planted 300 saplings at Camp Wenonah in July this year! It was a unique experience for campers and staff alike, providing them with the opportunity to bond with nature and to contribute to the land of the Camp they all hold so dear. Every camper, ages 8-18, had the chance to plant a tree in the location of their choice- some groups even planted tree gardens near their cabins which they could revisit and watch with care. Thank you Charitree Foundation for providing us with this wonderful opportunity.” – Janette, Assistant Director – Camp Wenonah

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Surveying newly planted seedlings.

“We had lots of fun with this tree planting project. With a certified arborist on our team we made good use of the trees with strategic placement while making it a fun time for our campers.” – Derrik Porter, tripper, Lake Scugog Camp

I’ve always dreamed of seeing these trees myself but living on a tiny island off the coast of Vancouver made such a dream unrealistic until this summer. In June I decided to purchase a used pop-up trailer and drive with my husband and two children to Ontario to visit my parents. I instantly thought this would be the ideal opportunity to drop in on some camps, see the trees and hear about the program from camp staff. I also think its important to report back to all of ChariTree’s generous donors that their donations are making a real difference and continue to grow in so many wonderful ways.

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Tim Clement points to Jack Pine planted by his campers at YMCA Geneva Park on Lake Couchiching just outside Orillia.

School ended early due to the British Columbia teacher’s strike so we packed up and hit the road with our nine-year-old and eleven-year-old for a once-in-a-lifetime geography lesson. After eight days driving and camping across the northern US and a memorable visit with the grandparents on Lake Simcoe,  we geared-up to head back across Canada.

Executive Director Andrea Koehle Jones checks-up on seedlings planted by campers.

Executive Director Andrea Koehle Jones checks-up on seedlings planted by campers.

The kids were excited for the next phase of the journey — to see the trees their mom had donated to summer camps. But which camps do we visit? The question was not as simple as I first imagined,  there were at least three camps within two hours from our departure point in Orillia that had received trees. It was satisfying to realize that the Charitree Foundation was on the ground growing in so many places. It’s something I was reminded of again and again as we continued to drive west.

The first camp we visited was the YMCA Geneva Park on Lake Couchiching just outside Orillia. Camp youth leader, Tim Clement, welcomed us and took us around a grass field where a few weeks earlier campers had planted along the outside edge some beautiful little jack pines that will become a windbreak and an ideal sun shade.

Tim told us he was pleasantly surprised that many of the campers chose tree planting over more traditional camp activities. He said planting seedlings is something many campers have never experienced. Tim said they found it appealing that they could be part of planting trees that will grow for generations, beautify the camp and help the environment.

This story was reinforced to us when we visited Assiniboine Park zoo camp in Winnipeg. The camp takes in a large group of inner city kids. These kids don’t have many chances to experience nature so the park makes a big effort to allow kids to play in the trees by holding a week-long camp taking kids up in bucket cranes to see seeds in the tree canopy. They even set-up zip lines in the trees for the kids. Trees from ChariTree also play a big role in this program showing these kids the wonders of nature. A group of trees the youth planted on a section of perimeter road around the zoo has been left in a natural state for five years. In amongst the grass and mature jack pines are small pine seedlings sprouting up. Karen Pearce, Director of Grounds, Assiniboine Park Conservancy,  says the kids that planted these trees ask to come back year after year to see how the trees are growing. It’s great to see these youth develop a sense of responsibility and pride for the environment in this way.

ChariTree has always believed there are some powerful lessons to be gained when campers are able to visit the trees they planted from previous summers. One of those lessons is that “from little things big things grow.” We experienced that ‘aha moment’ ourselves when we visited Kathy and Gary Koehler at Camp Kasota West on Sylvan Lake in Alberta.  As the Alberta CCA rep responsible for taking tree orders and making sure camps in her province receive their ChariTrees, Kathy has played a vital role in ChariTree’s summer camp program.

Gary showed us where campers have been planting ChariTrees over the years. On our exploration we found some young seedlings planted earlier this summer as well as some strong and 8 ‘ tall blue spruce growing near the lakeshore that must have been four to five years old.  To think they started out as tiny seedlings was inspiring.

Our 8,000 km road trip taught us that mother nature can also be harsh and cold. We experienced just about everything she could throw at us — tornado warnings, severe thunderstorms, flash floods and forest fires.  At Caddy Lake Girl Guide Camp in Manitoba’s beautiful Whiteshell Provincial Park, we found ChariTrees meeting another need. Camp director Lindsay Lodge led us up to the tent platforms on a small ridge behind the camp kitchen. A couple of years ago a severe windstorm had knocked down many of the mature spruce and pine trees. The camp was helping replant the area with trees from ChariTree and campers were getting the opportunity to see how trees can help heal a scarred landscape.DSC_0367-2

Sometimes mother nature is not so kind to trees. Massive flooding this summer prompted Manitoba to declare a state of emergency and call on the military to help with sandbagging efforts. At Assiniboine Park, Karen showed us where the Assiniboine River had spilled over and flooded an area where campers had planted ChariTrees in previous years.

Earlier I mentioned the role provincial reps have in helping the tree program succeed. It was great to talk to Kathy about her experience and hear about some of the challenges of coordinating the orders and pick-up of the trees. I gained a better appreciation of the logistics required to arrange dates and times for multiple camps to pick up their trees. So thank you so much Kathy and all provincial reps and of course the CCA’s Catherine Ross for all the important work you do.

Some of the processes I have implemented, like the online order form are designed to simplify the process. Still, sometimes things fall through the cracks. I was disappointed to learn of instances where camps never received the trees they ordered, or were unable to make the pickup dates and so their trees were given to other camps. I will be taking some time to think of ways to improve the ordering and delivery process so these kinds of omissions don’t happen. I would appreciate any suggestions to make the program better.

Looking back on our trip and camp check-in I realize the partnership between the ChariTree Foundation and the Canadian Camping Association has established some deep roots. Trees are springing up across the country and campers are truly making their world a better place. When campers plant their Wish Trees they get to make a wish for the world – my wish is that the programs continues to grow and even more children will have the opportunity to get out in nature and plant a Wish Tree.

 

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Love Trees gives more fruit trees to orphans and vulnerable children in Kenya


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(Photos: Children at Tuele Kenya visit healthy fruit trees they planted more than two years ago on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Many of the trees are doing well despite the very dry conditions in the region. This banana tree was planted in 2011.)

VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA – September 8, 2014 –  Love Trees is honoured to partner with the orphanage Tuele Kenya again in an effort to give even more children an opportunity to plant fruit trees and learn about environmental stewardship

Jon T. High  the Team Leader at Teule Kenya will lead the project. Jon is the 2011 recipient of the Love Trees Leadership Award of Merit for his project planting 100 fruit trees in honour of Nobel Laureate, Wangari Mathai. LoveTrees sponsored the planting of fruit trees on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro – an area that has suffered considerable deforestation.  Orphans and vulnerable children supported by Teule Kenya planted mango, papaya, guava, mulberry, lukward, passion fruit, grape, banana, apple, lemon and orange trees. Jon recently took photos to show how much the trees have grown over the last two and a half years, despite dry conditions in the region.

In developing countries, a Love Tree is truly a “tree of life” as it can alleviate hunger, foster self-sufficiency, provide natural disaster tree relief, combat global warming and improve nearby soilimage, air and water.

”There’s something so hopeful about planting trees with kids,” said Koehle Jones. “Kids are the future stewards of the environment. They’re concerned about the state of the planet and eager to help. I’ve seen the magic that happens when you give a child a tree – let’s give as many children as we can a Love Tree to plant.”

“We look forward to seeing what your donation can do in these children’s lives and in the environment and much more – how we are all interrelated,” High said. “I cant wait to teach our kids more responsibility of them taking care of their environment by planting trees.”

The 2014 Love Trees project will be part of the children’s garden on Teule land in Loitokitok, Kenya. “I am so happy that the children will have fruit trees in their garden,” said Koehle Jones. “I hope the trees will provide lots of fruit for the children as well as a sense of confidence that they have the power to make their world a better place.”

Love Trees manages a global children’s educational tree planting program. Since 2006, Love Trees has given thousands of trees to school children around the world, empowering them by also providing them with the tools and skills to be active stewards of the environment.

Teule Kenya, meaning “Chosen one ,” helps orphaned and vulnerable children by providing them with love, shelter, proper nourishment, education healthcare and guidance.  Increasingly Teule Kenya is dealing with children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS and Maasai girls rescued from FGM and early marriage.

For more information, please visit:

love-trees.com

teulekenya.org

Banana trees, Kenya

(Photo: Planting a banana tree – 2011 Love Trees children’s fruit tree project with Tuele Kenya.)

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ChariTree’s Director completes cross-country trip to check-up on trees

2014-07-02-11.41.39The executive director of The ChariTree Foundation has just completed a trip from Ontario to British Columbia to visit camps that have received trees for campers in recent years. The purpose of the trip was to see how the trees planted by campers are doing – and they are doing great! Special thanks to the camps we visited for showing us the trees they planted and thanks to all the camps that filled in their online form and are sending in great photos of their campers planting trees. More details and photos soon.

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