The IH Network Hugs the Earth

Since October 2021 IH schools have been virtually walking to see friends and colleagues in different countries, they have been virtually walking to places of environmental or historical interest, they have been holding walking meetings, and they have been cycling to work.

All this has been through swapping some usual short journeys we usually take in the car to walk or cycle instead. The objective has been to reduce harmful CO2 emissions and help to save our planet.

We set a target to walk a combined 40,000km, which is the circumference of the earth, to give our precious planet a metaphorical hug.

Did we hit this target? YES WE DID!! By the end of December 2021 staff and students in IH schools had broken the target and walked a total of 56, 506km.  Click on the image below for our progress toward this totaliser. 

Some schools really embraced this challenge, and here is the leaderboard of the top ten schools.

IH Schools Leaderboard

Top of the leaderboard is IH Rome Accademia Britannica in Italy. Their staff fully embraced the philosophy of changing the way they go about their daily lives, and many staff used bikes to get to work or meet friends socially. You can read more about how they embraced this here.

The Director of Studies at IH Rome Accademia Britannica says, "The Covid pandemic taught us that it is possible to live and work differently. Global warming tells us that both individuals and companies MUST do all they can to reduce car journeys and carbon emissions and accommodate work from home where possible."

The IH Sydney group of schools (Sydney City, Bondi, Darwin, Melbourne, Gold Coast and Byron Bay) joined together to set local challenges for staff and students to “virtually” walk to interesting places. For example staff and students from IH Melbourne “virtually” walked to the great Ocean Road; staff and students from IH Darwin “virtually” walked to Uluru, and those in Gold Coast walked to The Great Barrier Reef.  All their combined efforts meant they came second on the leaderboard.

Third is IH Torres Vedras in Portugal. It was great to hear from the school that from the very beginning the whole team were excited about the project. As you can read in this article, they started with a visible grid in school, where staff recorded their totals each week. This must have been motivating for the whole team to keep going - it clearly worked!

IH Reggio Calabria, in Italy, were fourth on the leaderboard, walking a total of 6134km. They teach a lot of younger learners, whose little faces are a constant reminder to them of the urgent need to take action to build a better, more sustainable future for the coming generations. So taking part in this challenge was a no-brainer for them. Read about their challenge to walk to Cambridge in the UK – which they achieved!

Their coordinator said "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."

Fifth on the leaderboard is IH Braga in Portugal. Getting students involved was the key to success for them, and although they only started in November their December total rocketed them up the leaderboard.  Sixth is IH Bristol who also involved students.

Although they walked a total of 3555km, IH Arezzo (in Italy) was just seventh on the leaderboard. We don’t think they will mind however. They decided they wanted the project to be a nice bonding opportunity for all staff, which it definitely turned out to be. They decided to “walk” to their friends in IH Lacunza to meet a surprise VIP to share with our students on a Zoom call. The walk from Arezzo was 1,391km, which they achieved in their first month! From there, they walked back through Catalonia to give the parents of one of their teachers a virtual hug, and then returned home in time for Christmas.

As well as a bonding opportunity, taking part in the challenge as inspired the team to make a long-lasting commitment to the environment and they have already planned more events and activities for students to raise awareness about sustainability issues. That is a real result.

Eight on the leaderboard was IH Bucharest, ninth was IH Stavropol (who walked to Rome!) and tenth was IH Dusseldorf.

We would like to thank and congratulate all the staff and students in these schools, and we hope that this has started a change to permanent sustainable habits!  

Read more about all the International House Commitments to Environmental Sustainability.