December’s Planet Action Kit theme was ‘Hope’ to end the year positively. If you bought one, we hope you enjoyed it and felt buoyed up by the good news stories and the prompts towards hope found in the natural world.
But we’re not done with hope yet. There’s more mileage to be had and we’re going to get every last drop out of it that we can for a generation of kids facing some phenomenal environmental challenges ahead.
An article in the Guardian reported that psychiatrists working with young and adolescent children are reporting that over half of their patients (57.3%) are experiencing what people are calling ‘climate anxiety’ - “growing distress about the future of the planet”. That is not OK. It’s tempting to idealise childhood as a time of pure innocence and carefree joy - no childhood is really like that. We all grow up with challenges. But this generation of young people hasn't caused the current environmental situation and has little choice in how we address the problems here and now. We, at Planet & People, want to play our part in encouraging and empowering children who feel this way with words to articulate their feelings, actions they can take and a vision of how it could be different because it’s not over yet!
We have developed a half-day workshop for schools this term with two central themes:
There ARE good news stories out there!
Here are some examples:
In our December PAK we talked about the wolves of Yellowstone National Park. Their story has been covered quite widely and it is a fantastic case study of rewilding and the vast impact one reintroduced species can have on every single element of the Yellowstone area - from the obvious, like controlling the population of elk, all the way to changes in the course of rivers (How Wolves Change Rivers). Action was taken and Yellowstone is in a better place because of it.
The Save The Whale campaign was a global, organised and focused response to an awareness that if we didn’t take drastic action, many whale species were going to be lost forever. In David Attenborough’s Wonder of Song (https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m00134jr/attenboroughs-wonder-of-song) he talks about the huge wake-up call it was for humans when we heard the whales’ song broadcasted for the first time and we responded to it because it made us realise what we would lose if we didn’t change our behaviours. We did act - globally, where whale hunting is banned, whale populations have recovered.
Our June Planet Action Kit focused on the story of beavers in this country coming back from the brink. These brilliant ecosystem engineers have been missing from our landscape for 400 years but now they are back - we have taken action and as a result, beavers are back in Britain doing great things for rivers and other plant and animal species who share their spaces, including us!
It is powerful to dream and hope and be specific about what we hope for, for our hopes to have substance to them.
If hope is clearly imagined and envisioned - if we can see exactly what it is we hope for - it is easier to make steps in that direction and take specific action towards our goals. This term’s Planet Action Workshop will involve children writing postcards to their peers in 2072 - fifty years from now! What do we hope the world looks like for them!? How do we hope things turned out? We plan to bury the postcards as a time capsule and school children in future years will be able to recover our hopes and, we HOPE that they will be able to say “yes, we did it!”
Through this activity, we aim to encourage children to really think about the specifics of what they want for their future - more birdsong, less traffic, more green spaces, more wildlife etc. What could it look like if we followed the example of Yellowstone, the Save the Whale campaign and British beavers and change the course of history? Exciting stuff!
Please get in touch if you want us to visit your child’s school - we have fully funded workshops to offer to schools in the south west for the duration of this term - what are you waiting for!?
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' and Planet Action Workshops, 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.