Sarah Tobin, co-founder of Young Climate Warriors, tells us all about the inspiring actions young residents are taking to protect our environment...
‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. Its not’
- Dr Seuss, The Lorax
In the days of the Wild West, adventurers travelled across the world looking for gold ore because they thought this would make them rich and happy. The Young Climate Warriors school holiday challenge was to look for a different sort of ‘awe’. A beach with crashing waves. A park where sunlight is dappling through new leaves. A pond with insects so light they can skate along the surface of the water.
Young Climate Warriors is a new initiative for children which is partly based in the Borough of Merton. Five Merton schools are already taking part. Children complete the SAME challenge in the SAME week, cutting harmful emissions and reducing the waste of precious resources.
Our school holiday challenge was to be AWEstruck by nature.
‘AWE is the feeling of respect and amazement we have when faced with something wonderful or even frightening’. As an introduction to our weekly challenges we provide some ‘did you know’ facts. In the case of our Nature is AWEsome challenge this included: ‘some of our most loved natural spaces, insects, animals and plants are threatened by climate change. We need to keep our carbon emissions as low as possible to prevent species extinction’.
The Young Climate Warriors website sets a weekly challenge for children to try at home, as well as providing links to Climate Change related educational materials appropriate for children, parents and teachers.
Over the course of the holiday, Young Climate Warriors sent in photos revealing that nature is indeed AWEsome. Here are a few quotes:
We threw pebbles into the sea in Hastings for nearly an hour non-stop. It was amazing!
Eliza, aged 6
We have had lovely long walks, looked at lambs close up, climbed trees and watched bugs.
Daniela and Emily
Otilie, aged 9, told us that they went for a walk in the Devil’s Punchbowl and used all their senses to explore their surroundings. Lucas and Jemima sent us a photo of a beautiful nesting swan at sunset by the River Thames. Alfie and Jemima thought the bluebells smelt incredible. Anais noticed how AWEsome nature is, but also how humans degrade it –
we stood still on the beach, and then noticed all the rubbish in the sand. We’re coming back tomorrow with gloves and a bin bag.
The holiday challenge suggested that children ask their parent/carer to take them for a walk to a local woodland, riverside, park or other green space, find a good spot and STAND STILL for FIVE minutes. They were asked to use all their senses to explore what they found (top tip – start by closing your eyes so you can focus on sounds and smells). Many children took photographs showing that Nature is truly AWEsome – these are available to view on the Gallery page of the Young Climate Warriors website. One Young Climate Warrior, Thomas, was inspired to write this verse ‘The cherry blossoms falling slow, The red kyte flying low, The sunshine shining its glow’.
Every child responds to nature in their own way; every child will engage with the Young Climate Warriors challenges in different ways. Olivia emailed us to tell us about a male Reed Bunting that comes to visit her garden. She has named him Jefferey. Then another one visited and she named him Bob. Olivia painted him in watercolour - here is below (left).
Greta Thunberg has inspired us to call for immediate action to tackle climate change, and as these children are proving – ‘you are never too small to make a difference’.
About Young Climate Warriors
Young Climate Warriors was set up in February 2019 to empower and enable children to get involved in tackling climate change. 20 schools, including five in the Borough of Merton, are now receiving weekly Young Climate Warriors ‘schools’ packs’. They are supporting and encouraging their pupils to learn about climate change and empowering them to undertake positive action to reduce carbon emissions. Over 400 children have signed up to the website to receive ‘This week’s challenge’ by email every Friday.
More details about the initiative, and all our weekly challenges to date, are available on our website, www.youngclimatewarriors.org.