Youth work plays a vital role in helping young people understand the world around them, and crucially: how they can change it for the better. Meet our three incredible finalists supporting the next generation of climate activists!
We’re all familiar with the mental health and wellbeing benefits of immersing yourself in nature, but what if you’re a young person living in an urban environment? How can you interact with the natural world and learn about the environment?
That’s exactly what Princes Trust’s Wildlife in Cities sought to find out, developing an interactive toolkit for youth workers in partnership with RSPB and the Natural History Museum to encourage young people to engage with nature on their doorsteps.
Delivered in person at Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery, the project was designed to introduce young people to urban nature and provide an insight and learning into the wildlife that might ordinarily go unnoticed.
By learning how to use binoculars and pond nets, and taking part in activities like bird spotting, net sweeping for mini beasts and pond dipping, young people were able to develop their sensory awareness and mindfulness, while also building confidence, creativity, communication, teamworking and presentation skills.
One young participant, Danielle Walsh, commented: “I loved the Wildlife course in Kelvingrove. It was so nice to get to work with other people and learn from the team at RSPB and the Natural History Museum! This has really helped my motivation and setting a routine. I am looking forward to getting involved in more programme with the Prince’s Trust.”
Few topics capture the imagination of young people quite like the fate of our planet, and Stirling Council’s Climate Ambassadors are a shining example of youth work’s ability to build a community of action for positive change.
By committing themselves to being collaborative, creative, courageous critical thinkers, the Ambassadors have already made a huge impact in their local area and beyond, inspiring others to get involved, to support, to partner – to be part of the change.
Forming part of the co-design group for the Climate Hot Seat event, they held some of Scotland’s top politicians’ feet to the fire on burning climate issues, putting them in the hot seat during a live climate panel.
Their partnership with Transition Stirling’s Reuse Hub – Dress to Waste Less seeks to minimise the impact of fast fashion by encouraging young people to hire second hand prom wear, with a website in development to showcase all the items, getting in donations, launching a social media campaign.
Climate Ambassador Daria Ionescu said: “Some of our favourite activities include talking about COP26 around a bonfire, kayaking and creating action plans for our schools during the residentials at Dounans. This has truly been the best two years since the Climate Ambassadors Programme was launched, we’re all very grateful and proud of the progress we’ve made so far, with every little or big step taken.”
Nestled in the village of Castlebay on the Isle of Barra, a burgeoning movement of young climate activists continues to make waves on the biggest environmental issues of the day.
Western Isles Youth Action Climate Group already have some major achievements under their belt, but there’s no sign of their momentum slowing any time soon. Formed during Covid via Zoom, the WIYACG realised that by coming together, they could have their voices heard by key decision-makers.
So far, they’ve interviewed local councillors, MPs, MSPs – as well as engaged with Head of Catering, Assets and Director of Education from the Western Isles Council – on key issues such as the use of single plastics, micro plastics, fishing nets, marine life, the decline of local bumble bees and fast fashion.
Together, the group took part in a global 1.5 Max summit and also travelled to Edinburgh where they took part in a two-day COP26 Youth Scotland residential.
They’ve even proven themselves to be tireless fundraisers, distributing funds to other local youth groups and projects promoting sustainability, widening the net for youth participation in climate issues on Barra and beyond.
Anna MacKinnon commented: “Being part of the WIYACG has really helped me have a voice and helped environmental issues that we as young people really care about.”