SCUSD sixth-grader, teacher will journey to Antarctica

e-Connections Post Leonardo da Vinci
Williams captured this photo of an Antarctic penguin in 2012

Leonardo da Vinci eK-8 School sixth grader Aidan Fong will journey to Antarctica next month with famed polar explorer Robert Swan, founder of 2041, an organization dedicated to educating future leaders about environmental issues.

Fong, 12, will participate in Swan’s International Antarctic Expedition 2015 as an Antarctic Youth Ambassador. He will be accompanied by his teacher, Kim Williams, who journeyed with Swan to the frozen continent in 2012, and about 80 other people interested in learning more about the melting polar ice caps and environmental sustainability.

“It’s always been my dream to do something to help the environment,” Aidan says.

Two years ago, Williams won the Coolest Teacher in the World search sponsored by the Center for Green Schools at the US Green Building Council. The prize was passage on Swan’s 2012 International Antarctic Expedition.  Williams incorporates lessons about environmental sustainability learned during the voyage into her science curriculum.

Inspired by his teacher’s adventure, Fong applied for the 2015 expedition online through Swan’s website, www.2041.com.

Fong and Williams will arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina, on March 13. They will board Swan’s ship, the Sea Spirit, two days later and journey through Drake’s Passage at the southernmost tip of the Americas to the Antarctic Peninsula. They will return to Ushuaia to complete the expedition on March 26.

Aidan’s parents have created a Facebook page to build awareness of their son’s trek and his commitment to environmental issues. They are working with Williams and da Vinci’s Parent Teacher Council, a 501(c)3 non-profit, to raise $50,000 to cover the costs of the journey. So far, more than half of the goal amount has been raised. Tax-deductible donations can be made to the school’s PTC through www.gofundme.com/2041Expedition.

When they return to Sacramento, Fong and Williams intend to continue working with Swan – who lives in Auburn – on ways to get more youngsters excited about environmentalism.

Swan’s contributions to education and the environment have been recognized through his appointment as United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Youth, a Visiting Professorship of the School of Environment at Leeds University and, in 1994, he became Special Envoy to the Director General of UNESCO. He is a TED Talks contributor and regarded as one of the world’s top motivational speakers. A British citizen, Swan was conferred the honor of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1995.