Welsh school children are celebrating five years living in a Fairtrade Nation by speaking directly to Fairtrade producers.
Five years after Wales became the world’s first Fairtrade Nation, more than 400 pupils from across the country are linking up live with Africa, South America and the Windward Islands.
The scheme is part of the Fairtrade Voices project, funded by the Co-operative Membership and managed by Fairtrade Wales, which supports Welsh people as they learn about the difference being Fairtrade makes.
The aim is to link 12 schools with the people who grow and produce some of the Fairtrade products available in Co-operative Group shops.
The project has three stages. Stage one involved learning about Fairtrade in the classroom, with support from a Fairtrade project worker. At stage two, pupils from each school visited a local Co-operative Food store to learn about Fairtrade by interviewing the store manager and taking part in a Fairtrade product hunt.
The final stage involves a live Skype link with Fairtrade tea, blueberry, honey, cocoa and banana producer co-operatives in Chile, Dominican Republic, Ghana, India, Kenya and Panama. This way the children get to hear first-hand how Fairtrade makes a difference to producers’ lives and their communities.
Helen Bradley, education manager at Fair Trade Wales, said: “It’s a great project to be part of and the young people are very excited. Already we’ve seen them engage with the issues surrounding Fairtrade and this provides an opportunity for them to deepen their understanding of global issues and assist with their journey to become a Fairtrade school.”
Ashley Drake, Wales manager of the Co-operative Group’s Membership, added: “We’re delighted that our members voted to support this project. As the world’s first Fair Trade Nation and as pioneers of Fairtrade, it’s only right that we come together to help educate and support young people to learn more about Fairtrade. It is great to be part of a project that inspires the next generation to understand how shopping locally can have a global impact.”
The project will continue this year when a website offering Fairtrade resources for Welsh schools and institutions will go live. The Fairtrade Schools Award scheme, managed by the Fairtrade Foundation, enables UK schools to learn about Fairtrade through a series of five goals.
In June 2008, Wales became the world’s first Fair Trade Nation, after an independent panel declared that a series of milestones had been reached including support from 40% of towns, 55% of counties, 100% of cities and 60% of higher education institutes, and a commitment from the Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales to buy, support and use Fairtrade products.