Sophie Scully (11) whose father and grandparents are from Clara, Co. Offaly, pictured at Ireland’s oldest tree – at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth – for the launch of the schools campaign to plant one million trees in Ireland and Africa to combat climate change.

Midland schools urged to back bid to plant trees in Ireland and Africa

Primary school children and schools across the Midlands are being urged to sign up to support a nationwide campaign that aims to plant tens of thousands of trees in a single day, to combat climate change.

Schools that support the initiative will receive a native Irish tree sapling per classroom, and get the chance to support communities across sub-Saharan Africa, who are seeking to plant 100,000 trees in December and early next Spring.

The school's tree planting is part of development organisation Self Help Africa’s ‘One Million Trees’ campaign, which is planting a million trees in Africa and 100,000 new native trees in Ireland each year thanks to the support of Glenisk.

The campaign is being backed by the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), and by sports stars from the Gaelic Players Association (GPA).

INTO president Joe McKeown said that they’re hoping to recruit upwards of 500 national schools to support the effort, and back Self Help Africa’s bid to plant trees in Ireland and Africa, starting on 3rd December next, and into next Spring.

Sean McMahon of the INTO, Meath Footballer Niamh O'Sullivan, Mary Magnier of the INTO, Dublin all-Ireland senior football winner Ciaran Kilkenny, Fr. Michael Mullaney President of Maynooth's St. Patrick's College, and school children Sophie Scully, Amber Heneghan, Nicole Connolly and Sienna Heneghan were at the site of Ireland’s oldest tree
Self Help Africa fundraiser Ronan Scully (centre) is pictured with, from left, Meath footballer Niamh O'Sullivan, 3 year old Sophie Tallon, his daughter, 11 year old Sophie Scully, Mary Magnier of the INTO, and Dublin all-Ireland winner Ciaran Kilkenny, at the launch of the One MIllion Trees Schools campaign.

“We will be distributing tree seedlings to schools around the country that sign up, and also providing teaching resources that have been developed and can be used by teachers, that highlight the value and importance of trees in combating climate change,” Mr. McKeown said.

Self Help Africa's Business Development representative Ronan Scully said that schoolchildren were extremely passionate about the environment.

"They’re alarmed by the stories that they read and hear about global warming, and want change. Young people are already actively engaged with initiatives like Green Schools, they are frequently the champions of waste reduction and recycling in the home, and they understand how important trees are to removing damaging greenhouse gases from the atmosphere,” he said.

GPA CEO Tom Parsons said: ”We are very proud of our ongoing partnership with Self Help Africa. In support of this initiative, we will be asking the hundreds of primary school teachers amongst our members to get involved and to ensure their classes take part. Inter-county players are role models within their communities. They are looked up to by children and that’s why we realise the importance of getting behind the ‘One Million Trees’ campaign which sets a great example in combating climate change.”

Sean McMahon of the INTO and co-ordinator of the campaign said: "I am delighted to have been able to attend the launch of such a brilliant campaign at the oldest tree in Ireland. I am sure that many of the primary schools of Ireland will rise to the occasion to support Self Help Africa to make a difference for good across our county, country and the many countries in Africa they work in and help to plant many Trees over the period of this very worthwhile and needed campaign."

Self Help Africa will distribute tree seedlings and planting materials to hundreds of communities across 15 countries as a part of the initiative, and is aiming to plant 25,000 on December 3rd, and an additional 75,000 trees in Africa to support the schools initiative, when planting seasons start in the Horn of Africa and West Africa, in Spring 2022.

Age appropriate lesson plans and other resources are being provided to support primary teachers to carry out tree focussed activities in their classrooms on the same day, while participating schools make donations, large or small to the campaign – with every €2 raised by class groups being sponsoring 10 new tree seedlings in Africa.