How Local Action Creates Global Leaders

Written By: Anna Muir, JGI Canada Volunteer
Category: Youth Power

Where do leaders come from? Studies have shown that when young people are encouraged and supported to become engaged with their community, they make more responsible life choices. Moreover, they are more likely to succeed academically and become active citizens within and even beyond their neighbourhoods.

According to the latest research, young people who are involved in community-focused initiatives at a young age demonstrate better problem-solving and decision-making skills, are more adept at public speaking, and are more familiar with the dynamics of teamwork.

Understanding how local action turns young people into global leaders is the inspiration behind Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program where young Canadians put knowledge and compassion into action to address local environmental challenges and contribute towards a more sustainable world.

Neil Orford, a retired history teacher and department head at Centre Dufferin District High School in Shelburne, Ont., has been encouraging students to be more civic-minded for years. A large part of his award-winning career has been dedicated to experiential learning—immersing his students in the concepts and places they’re learning about—and preparing them to become citizens of the world.

“The whole notion of a public education demands that students experience a deep understanding of their world,” Neil asserts. “We can only do that by exposing students to initiatives that transport them beyond the walls of the classroom.”

Neil believes that hands-on projects and lessons that challenge students to think of and address real issues, such as environmental sustainability, helps young people better understand the global, economic, social, political, technological and environmental forces that exist outside Canada’s borders. Empowered by this experience, students contribute positively to a world where nearly everything is connected.

Whether it’s creating pollinator gardens or repurposing plastic water bottles, each Roots & Shoots project requires students to solve a problem and collaborate with others to achieve a common goal—which is, ultimately, a better world.

Find out more about our Roots & Shoots program and how you can join us in building a sustainable future.


“Participating in projects that have global significance is critically important for 21st century learners.”

- Neil Orford, High School teacher