Primary schools meet to discuss climate change

‘No one is too small to make a difference’ was the key message at the first ever Climate Change Conference for primary school children, held in West Cornwall.  Organised by the Penwith Education Trust, more than a dozen schools gathered at Humphry Davy School in Penzance to take part in workshops and to share ideas on what they could do to help the environment.

The keynote speaker for the event was Chris Lubbe, who shared his story of growing up in South Africa and what it was like to be a part of the transition from ‘apartheid’ to a democracy.  Chris talked about his time working with one of the world’s most inspirational leaders, Nelson Mandela, and how everyone has the power to change the world.

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Chris said: “My key message for today was if I could work in South Africa as an activist, and I started at the age of 9; I could work together along with Nelson Mandela to bring about an end to apartheid, they too could become activists and bring an end to climate change and make sure the environment is the way it is supposed to be, because we are facing a catastrophe.

“If we don’t act now, then we are not going to have a world to live in and so my message is; simple things like writing letters which can make a difference.”

The students were encouraged to bring any litter they had collected on beach cleans, to recycle old socks into something new like a toy or draft excluder. They were also given talks by the Eden Project and took part in workshops on music, energy and art.

Chris continued: “The children asked some very good questions and they gave some very well informed answers, they had done quite a lot of research.  They were all quite knowledgeable about apartheid, especially considering none of them were around when Nelson Mandela was released from prison. But they knew who he was and what he stood for and that made me very, very impressed.”

This Climate Change Conference follows on from a similar event a few weeks ago, which brought together secondary school children from across Cornwall.

The event was organised by the Headteacher at Trythall Community Primary School, Mat Strevens, he said: “It’s really important to get the children involved and I think something like this is long overdue.  The climate crisis is one of the biggest issues in the world today and it is really important that the children are informed and know what they can do in terms of making a difference. 

“It’s really clear that one of the main ways they can make a difference is by speaking out and letting other people know about how important this is. Chris (in his opening speech) described making a difference as a mosquito; if you think a small thing can’t make a difference, then try spending the night in bed with a mosquito. 

“But they are not going to be able to do it on their own; they are going to need the help of adults, who let’s face it, have made some of these problems, to be there and to support them in their efforts.”

STEM Project Coordinator at Cornwall Council, Janine Bisson, added: “The passion and the determination of these young people to make a difference was very clear.  They are all now thinking about what they do in their schools and at home, which can make a difference and I look forward to hearing more from this passionate group of young people.”