How small actions can have a huge impact

Today we hear from our school British School IH Reggio Calabria and how they've embraced the 40k Challenge to involve the school and the whole community. Here they tell us about their journey so far...

One of the many things we like about being part of the IH network is the organisation’s commitment to issues which are close to our own hearts. Our school teaches a lot of younger learners, whose little faces are a constant reminder of the urgent need to take action to build a better, more sustainable future for the coming generations. One area of environmental concern in our region is the overuse of cars for travelling even the shortest of distances and, as much as we have tried to educate our students and the wider community about the benefits of leaving the car at home, to quote author Paulo Coelho (whose spiritual awakening during his 500-mile walk on the Camino de Santiago prompted him to change career and become a full-time writer):

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion”.

So when we heard about IHWO’s 40,000km challenge we jumped at the chance to lead by example - grabbing our walking shoes, pounding the streets on a virtual walk to Cambridge and back, and giving our local community a first-hand view of the numerous benefits walking can offer.

Our first step was to ask ourselves why we didn’t walk more, and the major obstacle was time, so we started brainstorming ways in which we could incorporate walking into our daily routine without losing the precious commodity of time. In doing so, we learnt about the benefits of “walking meetings”, which can help increase creativity and productivity, whilst also keeping fitness and wellbeing levels up. We heard from teachers about how they’d enjoyed the injection of energy that came from walking to offsite classes rather than being taken by car, and how they intended to continue on foot even after the challenge has finished.

Weekly Totaliser

Marketing and Communications Coordinator and Teacher, Suzanne Fondacaro, whose weekly emails of encouragement kept us all on track for reaching our objective of walking to Cambridge and back, told us:

“Tracking our progress each week, it’s been awesome to see how everyone’s commitment to making a small change can have such a big impact and it’s really spurred us on to think about how we can introduce sustainability into all areas of the school.”

In fact, the school has just decided to launch a “Sustainable Secret Santa” to replace their usual Secret Santa scheme for exchanging gifts between school employees at Christmas time. This year, instead of buying new gifts, everyone is donating unused gifts they’ve previously received as a way of reducing environmental damage caused by consumerism. While this may seem like a drop in the (ever-rising) ocean, the walking challenge has really made us realise the impact small actions can have when undertaken by a large number of people.

Marco Goso - School DirectorDirector of IH British School Reggio Calabria, Marco Goso, who strongly believes in the power of involving the local community in environmental initiatives, added:

“As one of the largest private educational institutions in our area, we have a responsibility towards our local community and it is therefore of paramount importance to us to model an attitude of environmental awareness which can benefit everyone. Sharing our walking adventures on social media and through local news articles calling for people to join us has, at the very least, raised awareness of the benefits of choosing sustainable methods of transport and hopefully demonstrated what can be achieved by many people taking small steps for a better future”

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta.