COLLABORATORS EMPOWER YOUTH CLIMATE AMBASSADORS!
Be the Change Earth Alliance and the UBC Climate Hub today announce a new joint project: Youth Climate Ambassador Workshops. These workshops will empower high school students to become community ‘Climate Ambassadors’ to engage peers, family, and community members in meaningful climate action.
Be the Change Earth Alliance has been presenting environmental workshops to build hope and agency among youth through a proven delivery model for ten years. This collaboration will augment their regular school programming in 2020 by providing high school classes with workshops facilitated by university students.
“I love the dynamics of peer mentorship,” enthused Maureen Jack-LaCroix, Creative Director of Be the Change Earth Alliance. “These workshops deepen commitments for change with both the student facilitators from UBC and the adolescents they are inspiring. Our experience indicates that most youth are already well informed on the causes and impacts of climate change. These workshops will help transform their eco-anxiety into positive action. We’ll be supporting students to plan group projects and develop their voice to influence others.”
Student eco-anxiety is a growing concern amongst educators. Project leads at UBC Climate Hub, Grace Nosek and George Radner, created these workshops in part to address an emergent youth mental crisis brought about by climate change. “The climate crisis is causing many youth today to feel helpless and hopeless,” says Radner. “Research suggests that to overcome this paralyzing ‘eco-anxiety,’ youth need a stronger sense of hope and agency about their role in fighting climate change.”
“Most climate change talks only focus on the negatives and all that’s going wrong, rather than what we can do to stop it,” says a student participant of the workshops. “This talk was a reprieve from all that gloom and overall, made me listen more.”
According to Jack-LaCroix, who pursued her own academic research in the field of eco-psychology, eco-anxiety and ‘planet grief’ are natural, ‘living system’ responses designed to compel individuals to make positive environmental behaviour change. However, this anxiety will only grow if left undiscussed or if actionable steps aren’t taken to address it.
The Youth Climate Ambassador Workshops will include activities such as:
- An open discussion on students’ feelings about climate change, validating their perspectives
- An introduction to the concept of climate justice
- Stories from facilitators that share personal motivations for becoming involved in climate action
- Stories from other youth stepping up to act on climate issues, both locally and internationally
- Guiding students to create their own ‘climate stories’ that incite a particular call to action for their target audience
These free student workshops will kick off in January and run through May 2020. Interested teachers can sign-up with BTCEA to schedule their workshop. The workshops are generously supposed by Vancity and UBC’s Community-University Engagement Support (CUES) Fund.