Working to Raise Youth Awareness on Climate Change

Last month, the Human Impacts Institute joined educators and educational stakeholders to discuss and explore ways to explain climate change to young people, and how to empower our future leaders. The “Evening of Youth-Focused Climate Change Programming” was organized by the NYC Youth and School Garden Network and GROW to Learn to explore two powerful youth-focused climate change programs – the Alliance for Climate Education and Rainforest Alliance- that can benefit the work students and teachers do around environmental learning and teaching. Participants also joined fromAdded Value, the United Nations International School, and Sustainable JC.

The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) presented their education program to raise youth awareness about climate change. ACE’s mission is to educate high school students on the science behind climate change and inspire them to take action to curb global warming. Beginning with education and small actions before moving up to major projects, ACE grooms leaders who are influencing peers and leading change. As part of their program, they provide multimedia assembly, support school action teams, offer leadership trainings, offer blog space for interested students, and involve youth leaders in youth meetings and climate related events. The educational program puts an emphasis on positive aspects and creative solution to tackle climate challenges. Click here to see the ACE education trailer.

The Rainforest Alliance presented some of their educational tools on climate change. The Rainforest Alliance Learning Site offers curricula and resources to help students understand how rainforests contribute to our collective well-being. This program teaches science, math, language arts and social studies essentials while addressing the National Standards for Learning. The multidisciplinary curricula presents information on forests, wildlife and local communities. It provides a global perspective on the importance of protecting the world’s natural resources and gives students opportunities for direct action. All of these resources are easy to download or view on screen and are provided free of charge. Tools include a large number of hands-on games and case studies. The workshop’s participants particularly enjoyed playing the carbon cycle game, traveling from firewood, to the atmosphere, with a stop over a plant. Click here to access the Rainforest Alliance education curricula.

Participants were very impressed by the quality and creativity of these educational program, and emphasized the importance of such initiatives, to link sciences to people through education and communication specialists. Educators highlighted that the Sandy Storm marked a shifting point in education delivery and materials, highlighting the regions particular vulnerability to climate change. Programs need to constantly be adapted to such events, as well as current youth trend, to stay attractive to young people.

Participants also discussed possible ways to monitor impacts of their environmental education programs such as following up with students through school clubs, green projects, surveys. Providing additional resources to teachers and following-up with them can also be very useful to pursue the work and monitor its results.

The Human Impacts Institute’s crew was very happy to take part in this educational evening, and is looking forward to pursue its collaboration with schools, educators, and partner organizations for a greener, more aware and more empowering education!

By Agathe Laure, Environmental Services, Human Impacts Institute

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