Local 14-year-old Dael Umanzor dreams of planting 150 trees in Kansas City. This spring, Dael took the first step by planting a Giving Grove orchard with the support of Kansas City Community Gardens, Adrianna Franch, goalkeeper for the Kansas City Current, and Kansas City, MO Parks and Recreation.
Story by Dael Umanzor, contributed by The Giving Grove
My name is Dael Umanzor and I have a big dream. My dream is to reforest Kansas City by planting 150 trees. My long-term goal is to plant more trees than the number of trees being cut down across our city.
Growing up in Northeast Kansas City, Missouri, has been a great experience. I love how I can go to a park and be able to play with anyone at any time. I like how you can connect with many cultures and people by going to the soccer field. I have been playing soccer for eight years now. I have four siblings, who all play soccer.
Two years ago I decided to join Ryogoku Soccer Academy. I am a kid that is in love with soccer, likes to hang out with friends, and is a very careful and caring person with everyone.
One improvement I believe our neighborhood could make is the number of trees to help stabilize the air pollution in our neighborhood. For example, on my street, there are 20 houses but only nine trees. Recently they just cut down two additional trees, meaning there are only seven trees left on my street.
At Ryogoku, each student works on a Passion Project that is tied to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. My Passion Project is to plant 150 trees in Kansas City. Did you know there are 15 BILLION trees that get cut down annually?
Those trees are home to many animal habitats. The main reason trees are being cut down is for farmland and housing developments. Trees are one of the most important things in the world because they give us clean air to breathe. Globally we deforest TEN million hectares of forest annually, which is an area the size of Portugal.
I came up with the idea of planting an orchard in October of 2022. The reason I wanted to plant an orchard is that I did not want to just plant oak trees. Oak trees are great, but I thought to myself what is something that can give us clean air and help the community? I thought fruit trees could produce fruit and clean air. In a few years when the fruit trees produce fruit, I want to give the fruit to homeless shelters and people that are houseless.
When the trees are healthy and already producing fruit, I want to pass the fruit out to homeless shelters, people that live in the street, and families from Ryogoku. I enjoyed the process of planting the trees. It was fun to have everyone come to my event and have a blast. Everyone was hanging out with friends. A few people came alone but got to know other people at the event.
The reason I chose the name The Reforestation, is because it goes with Sustainable Development Goal #15, Life on Land. I read about how many trees are being cut down, why we cut down trees, and what countries have the highest air pollution. I didn’t know what to do until I realized how and why trees were being cut down and how and why the air pollution was so high.
Ryogoku Soccer Academy is a school that I joined two years ago. We do things differently here, at Ryogoku. Each day we go out into the community and help our community. For example, every Thursday we go to Don Bosco and help them put fruits and vegetables into bags for refugees and seniors. Every Wednesday, we go around the block and pick up any trash that is on the ground, and we put it in the bags. We make sure to use gloves so we won’t touch anything nasty and get sick. Everyone in the school is doing their own Passion Project, a real-world problem that we want to solve.
If you are wondering how you can help my Passion Project there are plenty of ways but there are mainly four reasons:
- STOP chopping trees down
- PICK UP any trash on the ground
- STOP making backyard fires
- DONATE to my Gofundme so I can have the money to start planting more trees: Dael’s Gofundme
Thank you for taking the time to read this and helping our community become stronger and healthier.
More about Dale’s Passion Project
- Dael has planted 20 trees so far, and is seeking community support to reach his goal of 150.
- Kansas City Community Garden’s Giving Grove program helped Dael create a new orchard at the soccer academy’s practice grounds in Swope Park. The 12-tree orchard includes apples, cherries, pears, and peaches.
- Ryogoku Soccer Academy is an International Middle and High School in Kansas City that provides a community-based learning model tied directly to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- Join the Ryogoku Soccer Academy on June 9th to hear about the projects its students are working on. The Passion Project Presentations will be held 3 – 5 p.m. on Friday, June 9 at Northeast Chamber of Commerce, 2657 Independence Ave., Kansas City, MO.
More about The Giving Grove
The Giving Grove is a nonprofit that supports and plants little orchards with fruit trees, nut trees, and berry bushes in food-insecure urban neighborhoods to create access to healthy food. It first started as a program with Kansas City Community Gardens (KCCG) in 2013, and has since grown nationwide – supporting over 400 community orchards and a network of Giving Grove orchard programs in 11 cities.
Photos courtesy of Kansas City Community Gardens