This entry was shortlisted in the 2012 Peer Award “Sustainability and the Environment” category
Make the Link – Climate exChange
educating and connecting young people on climate change issues
‘The Make the Link – Climate exChange initiative is funded by the EU and led by the children’s charity Plan UK, in partnership with the education and participation charity, the Citizenship Foundation’. The project aims to educate and connect young people in six countries on climate change issues and empower them to take action to make a difference in their communities. A set of teaching resources, a website platform and residential trainings help the young people to come up with climate change campaigns or projects to put in practice in their communities and thus raising awareness on climate change issues.
One of the strongest components of the programme is the partnership among project staff (from the Citizenship Foundation, Plan offices in the UK, the Netherlands, Senegal, Kenya and Malawi and Partners Bulgaria) from different organisations in six countries.
Over 90% of the 300 teachers attended training workshops with very good feedback on the learning experience. Another strong component of the project is the active citizenship residential weekend trainings taking place in all the partner countries, whereby young people gain the skills on running a climate change campaign in their communities.
The space created for young people on the website platform to connect on climate change issues. The platform is also a rich resource for the participating teachers in terms of materials that they can use in the classroom.
An aspect of the project encourages young people to engage with decision makers (politicians, MPs etc) on their ideas on climate change. We are collecting case studies from different countries on young people interacting with decision makers on their projects and ideas.
Schools receive grants to support them in the development of their campaigns, encouraging them to manage a budget as well.
The connection amongst young people on the website has to be heavily supported and encouraged by staff. The numbers of links amongst young people have been lower than expected. Thus, a few initiatives on collaborative activities have taken place, like a Skype virtual summit on climate change between a school from The Netherlands and one from the UK. If we had the chance again, we would make the website more user friendly and have more incentives to encourage young people to connect online.
Young people are really passionate about climate change, they are informed about this and are very interested in taking action on projects around their communities. The project proves that with a little support, some fantastic work can be put into practice: like starting a whole school plastic recycling project or reducing CO2 emissions by encouraging people to plant vegetable pots in their gardens. Both these examples had businesses that supported them in reaching their aims and this proves that schools can work together with their communities with support.
Ruxandra Ratiu is the International Project Manager at the Citizenship Foundation, currently managing the Make the Link Climate exChange project in partnership with the other organizations mentioned above.
Keith Hempshall is the EC Development Education Project Manager at Plan UK