Promoting climate change leadership in school children

SCHOOLCHILDREN, by their nature, orientation and make-up, have a strong passion for technology and networking. They are adventurous and experimenting, hence most of them are familiar with social media and other formal online platforms, which continuously keep them engaged. 

Guest Column by Peter Makwanya 

The majority of children are school-going, so they need to put relevance and meaning of what they learn into practice.

Targeting schoolchildren and nurturing them into climate change leadership is quite significant, in the sense that, while still at school, children are manageable.

In this regard, they can formally and sustainably reach out to each other in systematic and documentable ways.

They can reach out to others within the frameworks of academic realm.

At this stage, although they are busy and absorbed into school and academic routines, they are obsessed about technological issues as well as experimenting.

So, what binds them together is the touch of creativity, innovations and intrinsic motivation.

For these reasons, children can be strategically situated into the driving seat, assuming responsibility and accountability.

They can be nurtured into adulthood, in consolidation and transformation into leadership roles, climate change leadership, included.

In this discourse and climate change community of practice, children need to participate in action strategies, take charge, engage and build resolutions for success and resilience. 

Of course, they are not alone, sporadic and disengaged from the adult guidance, counselling and leadership.

They will be part of a strong coalition of networks, of children and youths, driven by passion, nature skills and a keen eye for the environment, will demonstrate significant and sustainable footprints on online platforms and open fora. 

These children will be gradually nurtured into environmental stewardship, activism, advocacy and networking, in which they can engage to be heard, through poetry, music, drama, public speaking, debates, among others. 

These are sustainable building blocks for nature conservation and life-long interactive modes, enough to add to the existing action climate strategies that will transform our environment along the demands and mechanisms of the 21st Century. 

All these innovations and strategies will feed sufficiently into the broad networks of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It is against this background that children should not be left behind, hence teamwork, collective efforts and goals need to be accomplished.

Children’s voices need to be heard, loud and clear in order to complement policy frameworks and national conservation building efforts.

Children’s climate change interactive techniques, through experience, may continue to include video games, photographing environmental sites and climate change impacts, not leaving out filming, acting and oramedia.

The idea behind all these milestone communication and representation of the climate story and action strategies, would be designed to contribute to the preservation and survival of our only one and single planet, earth. 

At the end of the day, children need to tell their own climate change story on how best they would have participated in the transformation of the environment.

As part of the strong network of climate defenders, advocates and knowledge brokers, children may also extend their engagements to parliamentary debates or writing climate change stories in the print media, communicating on the radio and the television.

By so doing, they will be better placed to inspire other children and even adults as well. 

Still at schools, children can be part of the interactive visual communication network as well as being able to communicate climate change impacts through art and music, designed to nurture creative self-expressions. 

Due to the disruptive and destructive behaviours of adults in charge of the environmental matters, some children may be forgiven of thinking that, issues of the changing climate, do not concern them, but only the adults hence they need to take a back seat.

Of course, they have every right to think so, as they are not consulted or let alone included in policy formulations, planning and implementation.

In this regard, from the children’s perspective, climate change is one of those dangerous, games only for adults, of which children should be nowhere near. 

True environmental stewards are supportive, engaging, complementary, honesty and inclusive.

Even the ecumenical engagements and dialoguing should be able to place children at the heart of sustainable development, so goes the saying, cleanliness is next to Godliness. 

Events about climate-related scenarios and impacts like flooding, vicious storms and winds, should even make children tough and strong advocates for nature, as there are natural phenomena destroying schools, roads, bridges, crops, homes and many other forms of infrastructure which form a strong network of basic needs which support children’s lives.

When the flow of basic requirements is compromised then children’s livelihoods would be affected. 

It is also important and significant for schools to note that, besides the now ritualistic and routinous environmental debates, they should go a step further and organise environmental expos, where children can showcase their creativity and innovations as ways of safeguarding their environments and achieve resilience.

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