August 12, 2021

Alta Vista Junior Youth and their Tree Giveaway Community Service

Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms and its fruits.
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

On Sunday, July 25, thanks to the sponsorship of Ecology Ottawa, junior youth distributed free trees to many thankful Ottawa citizens. The young participants, aged 11 to 15 years, belong to the Junior Youth Empowerment Program, Alta Vista chapter, the goals of which include spiritual growth, friendship, and community-building.

They worked together in unity as they distributed free black elderberry, white spruce, and red oak tree saplings as lined-up recipients happily agreed to plant them in places where they could flourish. The Bahá’í Centre parking lot was bedecked with a lineup of community members desirous of free tree saplings, a table of young volunteers eager to help people choose their tree saplings, and a craft table with chalk and construction paper for the children. The sun shone and chirping birds mingled with the sound of the latest pop tune favourites. By the roadside, the junior youth waved signs encouraging people driving by to drop in and choose a tree.

Jaden of Ecology Ottawa, a co-op student from Carleton University, noted the importance of offering a diversity of tree species since monoculture planting – which means planting only one type of tree – in one area can lead to long-term problems like when the emerald ash borer destroyed large numbers of ash trees clustered in various neighbourhoods. She also noted that tree giveaways are an occasion to educate the public and give people of every background the opportunity to join in the planting of new trees. A survey will be given to the tree sapling owners one year after planting to see how their trees are faring. Susie, another volunteer with Ecology Ottawa, oversaw the sign-ins and was delighted with the participation and level of enthusiasm.

Both Ecology Ottawa volunteers and the junior youth recorded the tree sapling selections of the recipients and gave information on tree care, especially for the first winter. The enthusiasm of the junior youth was matched by their sincerity to do community service – their collective generous voices resounded loud and clear. Junior youth animators Anis and Seemah guided the youth and worked alongside them. Seemah spoke about the importance of replenishing our urban trees and since trees are expensive this is a great opportunity for community members to acquire a new tree for their yard. Anis added that trees restore the urban canopy and that organizing this event afforded the junior youth an important opportunity for community service.

When asked “What makes you happy about giving away trees?” the youth replied that trees are helpful to the environment, that they suck up carbon dioxide and slow climate change and that they bring shade and improve urban scenery. Not only did the young people enjoy the day, but their parents were also very impressed, noting that it was wonderful to see the youth together again after being separated for so long by pandemic restrictions; they expressed their pleasure at their becoming involved in adding trees to Ottawa’s urban landscape and being educated on the important role played by trees. They were also pleased that the event was so well organized and infused with a spirit of working together in service. The tree giveaway was a great success on so many levels!

Ottawa Cluster Environment Group

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