Author: Heather Kerrison, Greater Toronto Area Program Coordinator
When we consider best practices for mitigating climate change, we must consider education to be at the forefront.
When Relay Education workshop facilitators connect with students, the goal is not only to teach them, but also to inspire them. When high school students participate in our Climate Change and Renewables workshop, they learn about environmental, scientific and social issues that are threatening us and the planet. Next, they are presented an opportunity to be a part of the solution.”
Relay Education facilitators teach youth and adults about climate change and strategies on how we may reduce risks and vulnerabilities that harm the earth. This includes discussing large-scale societal shifts, like the increase of renewable energy generation and storage for electricity. We also talk about how we can alter our individual lifestyles in the name of sustainability. It’s important that we focus on tangible actions that every person can take towards protecting our planet and each other.
It’s even more inspiring when we can include local aspects, which is a part of place-based education. Think about your home, the school you attend or your workplace. Are there ways in which they can be made to be more sustainable? Or, a way to incorporate green policies? If a school is using sustainable practices it inspires students to use green thinking in other aspects of their life
In our elementary workshops, we ask children what they could do in their own lives to reduce their carbon footprints. The answers are impressive, and often include the totality of being more considerate in everyday actions: don’t leave the water on while you brush your teeth, turn off lights when you aren’t in the room or play outside instead of using gaming systems. By getting kids to think of the impacts behind their actions, from a young age, we are creating a generation of champions for the environment. Students that will go home and ask their parents to incorporate green practices, ultimately, effect positive change in their small circle. At the end of each workshop, I often ask students what they liked best and I have had students as young as nine-years-old exclaim things such as, “I really loved learning about the world.” We, as educators, are helping to shape youth’s perception of the world, and their relationship with it. By positively influencing younger generations we are shifting mindsets and inspiring them to be more eco-conscious.
By grounding ourselves in the ideal that “if people know better, they will do better” we can educate a wide range of people about climate change and inspire them to take action. Relay Education reached over 20,000 students and community members last year. If each of them is provided with education and inspired to make changes, the potential to cause real change is not only possible, but evident. By reaching as many people as possible with accurate, factual information about climate change, we are mitigating it at the same time. We are contributing to a shift in knowledge, behaviour and skills that are imperative for battling climate change.
Here at Relay Education, we are lucky to be advocates for the environment with the opportunity to teach so many others. What inspires me is seeing firsthand the attitudes, thoughts and behaviours of our youth towards the environment. They will surely affect great change. We are happy to be a part of it.