FOR PLANET AND PEOPLE
A story of the launch of our Planet Action Workshops in Schools Programme - Kicking off in Kentisbeare! Get in touch with your headteacher (and us!) now to book us for a workshop in your child's school.
Parent power is real! If you are a parent, or any person in the community, you can make a difference for the planet today. Here is the proof...
Last Monday, Jess and Bethia of Devon-based Community Interest Company, Planet & People, got to spend a whole morning with 60 young people from Kentisbeare Primary School. This was a chance to kick off the week by launching our Planet Action Workshops in Schools programme, and boy did Kentisbeare deliver. A true privilege to be given the opportunity to lead such a large and enthusiastic group of young and eager minds.
Young people are the best audience to work with – on a Monday morning, late in the term on a grey November day – every reason to be flat. Not a chance. The KS2 kids at Kentisbeare were buzzing – they were alert, excited, full of energy, optimism and brilliance. The workshop theme this term is “Speak Up” in response to COP26 (the recent global climate change conference) and the growing community of young activists around the world who are speaking up and speaking out. It’s an excellent theme to get kids excited about the planet – who doesn’t like making a noise!?
Our first, assembly-style, activity engaged them in the concept of Earth being fragile and needing our careful protection. Two volunteers passed an Earth ‘egg’ between them and after each go they moved further apart. Because we all understand eggs to be fragile, their body language showed care and caution and we made the point that once our mindset shifts and we understand that something is precious, it changes how we behave. With drum rolls aplenty, the atmosphere was electric and the room charged as inevitably the Earth 'egg', came to a sticky end. Noisy and messy - definitely a Monday morning to remember!
We warmed up our voice boxes and talked about how our voices can be used to communicate our feelings when something is not OK. We showed the children images of plastic covered beaches, traffic jams, polluted skies and they made plenty of noise but also some amazingly insightful comments as they got more engaged and animated. Kids have a way of cutting right through to the crux of the issue – when shown an image of an area where deforestation has resulted in desertification, one pupil commented that it made him feel "dry inside". The empathy was clear, this is an issue we need to act on. With a positive approach we also got them cheering for forests, coral reefs and even vegetables!
After the large group session we split off into smaller groups and got to the heart of the message. We addressed how to overcome challenges like feeling shy, lacking confidence, feeling like you don’t know enough etc. This is something that Jess and I feel really strongly about – there has to be a place for everyone at the table. The environmental problems we face are too deep and too wide to think that a niche response will cut it. All of us have to live and think differently with all the various personalities, skills and cultures that we have and are! We all have 'superpowers'. It was a brilliant opportunity to engage with the children on a small group and individual level - something that most teachers can't always have time to accommodate in their pressured schedules.
We designed T-shirts with eco-themes where some children worked together and formed YouTube sensation-like personalities, others came up with beautiful artwork depicting a fragile Earth and the beauty of nature. Differences and strengths were celebrated as children worked out what was special about the skills and experiences of their comrades.
In an energetic finale we came together in the school hall to summarise the children's achievements and get to the nub of how to 'Speak Up' with positivity, kindness and tact. We provided practical advice on how to make changes to the environment in their community.
Jess and I left the Planet Action Workshop at Kentisbeare feeling encouraged and in awe of young people today. They do have a voice – it is loud, proud, upbeat and full of energy. In the quieter moments, everyone got a chance to state their views in their own way. A great cause for hope.
From the pupils:
Year 6 pupil: "It was very good - everyone could get involved in their own way. It didn't matter if you're shy or loud, it felt like we had a say."
Year 6 pupil: "It was fun, but it was moving - it made me feel like we can all do something to protect the world we live in."
Year 5 pupil: "It's made me think that I can do more to help the world - even if it's just starting with something small."
Year 4 pupil: "It's made me want to do more - I want to put myself forward as a school eco-rep now!"
From the Headteacher:
"I have met with the teachers involved and a selection of pupils attending the Planet Action Workshop and they only have positive feedback"
From a teacher:
"...it was nice that the children were left empowered to question adults"
So humbled by the responses and excited to crack on with Planet Action Workshops in schools and community groups all over the county. Hopefully one day we will see these messages rippling from the workshops we give!
FOR PLANET AND PEOPLE is a regular blog conversation by ‘Planet & People’ to reflect our values and behaviours and encourage open conversation on topical eco-issues.
We are the creators of the 'Planet Action Kit' (PAK), inspiring kids to LOVE the Earth. PAK is an educational resource and subscription activity box providing personalised learning resources engaging budding planet-friendly kids. The activities focus on the four main themes: Learn, Observe, inVolve and Enjoy and are centred around matters of environment and sustainability. We run Planet Action Workshops in schools and for large community groups where we develop the next generation of planet protectors using adapted materials from our Planet Action Kit. Find out more on our Website, Facebook group, and Instagram Feed.