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So What? UK

LionAid is delighted to support a highly innovative educational website called So What? (sowhatuk.com) that aims to bring wildlife conservation into the classroom. This is an issue that has been begging for attention for a very long time both by the students and the conservation community and is the brainchild of a teacher (Matthew Payne) in the Manchester UK area. His website, which went live in July 2012, provides free online resources for educators to teach young people about the conservation needs of some of the world's most threatened species. As of now, the website provides resources for two age ranges: ages 7-11 and ages 11-18.

Matthew's name for the So What? initiative came from the reaction of those who feel they have no voice. Given the message that the world's species are going extinct, the initial reaction is usually "so what?" until they gain a better informed platform to evaluate what extinction actually implies and that they can influence a world wildlife heritage that belongs to us all. When young adults are given a real voice in making a difference in conservation, they will become dedicated conservationists.

In February 2011, LionAid felt very privileged to be asked to talk to a group of primary children in a small school called St. Peter's in Folkestone in the UK. They had held a Christmas Fair to raise money for LionAid. "Read our blog post to what transpired when we sat down and talked with the children. LionAid said:

"Our generation has made a mess of things to say the least. We have global warmed, we have endangered and driven species to the brink of extinction, we have not paid very much attention. If we continue along this self-serving and greedy course, our children will inherit a sadly diminished world. As St. Peter's was a Church school the assembly ended with a prayer. It was a very relevant one that echoes across all religions and faiths and to all people with morals. We should only be forgiven our trespasses on the earth's biodiversity if we can amend our ways. Our children should inherit an earth that is richer than the one we inherited and that should not be trespassed against. It will take effort and commitment and dedication. With our will it can still be done, and LionAid will pursue any avenue to ensure lions will be there for the children of St. Peter's school and all others. It is their right and our duty."

So let us all support the So What? club and get as many schools, both around the UK and beyond, running So What? after school clubs and/or using the resources as part of the curriculum. Let us create an online network of So What? schools and other educational institutions which have shown themselves to be inspiring a future generation of informed conservationists.
We will keep you updated with a regular blog about new So What? clubs and activities, supported by a gallery of photos and pictures that you send to us. Contact us with your thoughts, ideas, wildlife questions and news from your local So What? clubs.
We will put together a fundraising pack, full of ideas for the children and young adults to help raise funds for our threatened species. LionAid will, distance permitting, come to schools and talk to students about wildlife conservation in general and, of course, about lions in particular.
Help us to inspire our children and young adults about wildlife conservation. After all, they are the future conservators of the world's wildlife.