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Climate change

A new generation of climate activists

By Jen Murphy, Development Education Coordinator 
Trócaire engages with school students of all ages through our Development Education programmes on global issues like poverty,  human rights, conflict and the environment. We find the interest and enthusiasm of these students incredibly inspiring – and often share what we’ve learned from them with our colleagues here at Trócaire HQ. 
In the last year in particular, we’ve been so impressed with the work of young people in understanding climate change and acting for climate justice (how climate change impacts on people). 
For example, an increasing number of schools are taking part in the Green Schools initiative in southern Ireland and Eco Schools in Northern Ireland to promote sustainable living through whole-school action to earn Green Flag recognition.
In November last year, Trócaire ran its first Climate Change Challenge weekend – in which a group of 16-18 year olds from across Ireland participated in a variety of activities including a natural disaster simulation to explore the causes and effects of climate change, learn how to mitigate against these and become advocates for change in their schools and wider communities. 
At a recent session in Abbey Community College in Boyle, my colleague, Lauren O’Kelly met students from the Second Year CSPE class who are taking part in the ‘One Good Idea’ Project run by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
Trocaire's Lauren O'Kelly and students from Abbey Community College in Boyle Roscommon
One Good Idea participants Cian, James and Luke with Trócaire’s Lauren O’Kelly
The project is aimed at raising students’ awareness and understanding of energy efficiency and climate change. It gives students an opportunity to come up with One Good Idea that will creatively inspire people around them to make lifestyle changes to save energy.
Two weeks ago, students from five local post primary schools gathered in Millstreet Parish Centre, Cork, for a Climate Change Seminar organised by Millstreet Community School and facilitated by representatives from Trócaire, Cork Environmental Forum and Global Action Plan.
Transition Year and 5th Years from Bishop McEgan College (Macroom), Coláiste Treasa (Kanturk), Boherbue Comprehensive School, Scoil Phobail Slaibh Luachra (Rathmore) and Millstreet Community School took part in this seminar and will facilitate peer-learning sessions on what they learned with the wider student population in their schools. 
Students at Millstreet Climate Seminar
Back row left to right – Heather O’Sullivan (Coláiste Treasa Kanturk), Gerard O’Hanlon (Millstreet Community School), Vincent Kiely (Boherbue Comprehensive School, holding ‘CJ’ bee – Climate Justice logo from Trócaire’s Lenten Campaign,) Tynan Kearns (Scoil Phobail Slaibh Luachra), Justin Coleman (Bishop McEgan College)
The day began with a speech given by Liam O’Donoghue, who is a Transition Year from Millstreet Community School. He reflected on how his awareness of climate change was ignited by taking part in the Climate Change Challenge Weekend in November. Since then he has been busy collecting signatures for a petition to urge the Irish government to strengthen the recently published Climate Action Bill.
As well as taking part in development education workshops, students from schools across Ireland are organising fundraising events to support Trócaire’s climate justice work. 
Schools raising funds for Trocaire's climate change work
Top left: St. Mary’s High School in Midleton, Cork, learned about climate change and raised €1,833 from their 24 Hour Fast
Top middle: Elizabeth from Aquinas Grammar School in Belfast with her amazing Trócaire cake 
Top right: Chloe and Kelly, 6th years from Presentation School, Tipperary, making a poster for their Trócaire fundraising
Bottom: 300 pupils and all of the staff from Presentation Secondary School, Ballyphehane, Cork, walked 6 miles today carrying buckets of water to draw attention to the global water crisis and raise money for Trócaire
And some students, both primary and post primary, express their solidarity for those most affected by climate change through poetry. We’re now making our way through the fantastic entries for the Trócaire and Poetry Ireland 2015 competition on the theme of climate justice and will be announcing winners in May. So, watch this space!

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