At the beginning of July, Hayley Pinto, her daughter Sasha and a group of volunteers teamed up to deliver day long workshops to children aged 12 and 13 in Norfolk. First at Norwich School and then twice at Thorpe School the week after.
Hayley is a member of Greenpeace, CHAIN (Climate Hope and Action In Norfolk) and most recently Norwich XR. As a local doctor, she realised the urgent need to address climate change after reading the word ‘Catastrophe’ in a medical journal. Her daughter Sasha has just completed a degree in Zoology and understands the need to protect and enhance biodiversity in the face of human ecological destruction.
Believing strongly that young people have the right to know the facts regarding their world and their future, the aim of the workshops was to inform, educate and empower young people to take action for change. The workshops were in depth and inspiring, covering hard hitting topics in a powerful yet playful and dynamic way.
Split into two parts, the first half of the day covered the current issues of climate change and its impacts on the earth, its species and humankind. A mixture of talks, videos and interactive quizzes, the morning session explained the facts, science and consequences of the current crisis. There was then a lunch break and an opportunity for the children and staff to digest the material they had covered.
The second session was all about the ‘Solutions’ to the crisis. Encouraging the children to problem solve and come up with inventive ideas that could address the climate emergency. The children worked in small groups each dealing with one subject matter.
1. Energy - demand
2. Energy - production
4. Cities - Design and Materials
5. Buildings - Design and Materials
6. Consumption - Fashion and what we buy
8. Diet and Food Waste
9. Land Use, forests and wetlands
12. Human Health
Given fact sheets, online references and books, they were required to work together and negotiate with other groups to come up with action plans. For example Agriculture may of requested people change their eating habits by communicating with Diets and Health may have requested better air quality from Transport and cycle paths form City Design to improve activity levels.
Groups were rewarded points for their efforts to reduce carbon emissions and also scored for their ability to enhance biodiversity. Prizes were given to the winners so competition was high!
The days workshop was rounded up with short presentations from each group and reflection on what they had learnt. The children were asked to consider what they could do as individuals to take action and a summer challenge was set.
The workshops were really positive with the children engaging really well with the subject and working really hard to understand the content. There was a lot of information given and it was respectfully pitched at a very high level. The children responded really well to this and thrived when given the chance to take on the responsibilities to solve the issues themselves. Coming up with more solutions in the space of an afternoon, than many politicians have managed in a lifetime!
Feedback from Norwich school:
‘I am emailing to congratulate you on Climate Day (4) – certainly the best so far. As always your organisation was superb, and you presented your message in a way that conveyed both urgency yet a determination to apply practical, effective and balanced responses. I thought timings were precise: a morning to present a range of challenges and an afternoon to focus on solutions. Delivery was excellent and the pupils responded accordingly. It was evident to them that Hayley was passionate but also highly informed, nuanced, balanced and non-judgemental. I judged the quality of student response to be high. Hayley did an excellent job marshalling pupil comments and offering tweaks or insights of her own.
Climate Day also seemed quite ‘easy’ this year. This reflects excellent organisation (thanks Helen and Fran too), support from volunteers (thanks to Sasha and your colleagues Hayley) but mainly because a well-paced day was packed with learning and purposeful activity.’ - Tom
‘Please can I echo your thanks Tom. Although I didn’t get to see the activities (other than a brief 5 mins in the morning) I’ve heard from my son, who is in U4, just what a good day it was – he certainly learnt a great deal and also said he enjoyed himself. Thank you to all of you for your hard work in organising this excellent and really beneficial day for our pupils.’ -Richard
It was a pleasure and a privilege to volunteer at the workshops. It was a breath of fresh air to hear the children's perspectives, intuitions and clarity on what needs to be done! A real mess us adults have got ourselves into! Lets stop and listen to some of these wise younger folk.
There is hope these school workshops will continue next year. If you are a teacher or a parent, why not suggest one is held at your local school.