Now, more than ever, our communities and livelihoods are vulnerable to the imminent consequences of climate change- but there is still time. If we are to manage and restore our life support system, we must foster a new culture. We must think differently, we must act differently, and we must engage differently. Addressing these challenges and building a resilient future takes more than just plans on paper or engineered solutions – it requires that people be at the center of solutions. To do this right, we need an engaged, compassionate, and creative multigenerational community willing to come together to make hard decisions about our future.
As a society we have a tendency to tell stories that shock and scare as forms of entertainment. However, if we talk only of doom and gloom then we are playing into a feeling of hopelessness that isolate and turn people away from engaging. Instead, we need to change the narrative to stories that are defined by ingenuity, creativity, and innovative solutions so that we offer alternative views of the future where individuals see themselves as part of the solution. Whether it’s through story, conversation, or actions we need to identify and nurture the things that give us hope. Hope in ourselves and hope in others. We are in this together and we have a responsibility to prepare our children and the next generation to take this on. We need to be honest with our children but not spread fear or resignation. We have a responsibility to train and prepare youth to face the threats of our changing climate with conviction, creativity, and a sense of purpose.
It with this in mind that I started the Climate Kids program in 2013 as part of my work leading the Climate Science Alliance-South Coast. Climate Kids utilizes a multi-generational collaborative approach that supports K-12 youth education on climate resiliency through hands-on science activities, storytelling, field trips, and art. At the heart of this program we work to foster active learning experiences to provide hands-on scientific opportunities, facilitate multi-dimensional climate messaging, and empower students to be climate resilient ambassadors. Its one thing to study science, and another thing to BE a scientist. Donning a lab coat and clipboard with data forms, students use inquiry based learning to better understand the world around them. Students are challenged with complex topics around climate science and the responsibility to figure out both impacts and solutions. Utilizing consistent messaging, local examples, and leveraging a range of activities we seek to awaken the scientist and artist in every child. We encourage the harebrained crazy schemes and a feeling that nothing is out of bounds when we use our creativity to think through difficult problems.