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23 May, 2011

Young eco-campaigners tackle climate change

On 13 to 15 May, 27 young eco-campaigners met in Ashford, Kent to discuss how to combat climate change.

During three days of residential training, Attleborough High School from Norfolk, the Gilberd School from Essex and Blue River School from Birmingham developed their communication skills, and learned how to plan and organise campaigns, as part of the Make the Link – Climate exChange project.

Attleborough High School will be running a reduce, reuse and recycle campaign: building bins from bicycle tyres and encouraging their peers to recycle more bottles. Their most ambitious goal is to get a wind turbine to power the whole school!

‘Don't be a tosser' is the slogan of the Gilberd School's campaign to encourage their peers to stop littering. Students reported that because the school is close to a supermarket there is often a lot of litter on the fields next to the school. Students agreed they needed to take action on this and they are working alongside the supermarket to find a solution.

Hanad Botan, 16 from Blue River explained how ‘Clean Brake' hopes to reduce traffic and pollution in Birmingham. The campaign will work alongside the police to encourage the public to cycle more. Thanks to this partnership they will receive unclaimed bicycles, which they will learn to repair and use for their own social enterprise.

The residential was also attended by passionate teachers who will be supporting their students' campaigns. Muhammed from Blue River said, ‘this weekend has made a massive difference, first it was just me talking about [a project], but now they are talking about it. Once [the students] are talking about it, things will happen'. Mike from Attleborough High School said the residential has ‘given him a glimmer of hope and [he] now knows that [their] students ...are prepared to actually do something, they are not just going to sit around and wait for someone, they are going to stand up and do it for themselves'.

Besides working on developing their own campaign ideas, the students and teachers also had the opportunity to meet an experienced young campaigner, Nathan Akehurst, who is running his own climate change campaign, One Step. Together with six other young people he is part of the Youth Climate Network whose aim is to collect 5900 pledges from young people that they will send to Durban for the next Climate Change summit.

Annalise Gray, 13 explains that ‘helping the world isn't a matter of how "uncool" it is; it is saving animal and human lives' and the message is that young people need to start taking action now to create a world they want to live in in the future. The training provided by Make the Link - Climate exChange enables young people to be active citizens who are confident in voicing their concerns and can make a difference

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