Climate change is one of the most pressing global challenges of our time and its impact is felt around the world. The Czech Republic is no exception. Rising average temperatures, an increase in extreme weather events and other impacts of climate change are affecting the lives of every citizen. The Youth for Climate project engages young people, educators and local governments in influencing climate change. It is implemented by the Environmental Education Centre SEVER and aims to motivate and involve the young generation in climate protection at local level. It seeks to change mindsets, strengthen responsibility towards nature and prepare the new generation for a future in harmony with the environment.
"The project emphasizes the role of young people who actively change their surroundings for the better. They work with local actors and create local climate action plans. The aim is to give young people the chance to influence their environment. The project has two parts - the first cycle focuses on the creation of a local climate action plan, which is then presented to the council and the community. The second cycle involves the implementation of concrete climate protection measures in the local area", summarises the main principles of the project Pavlína Radiměřská, the supervisor of the Youth for Climate project from the Environmental Education Centre SEVER.
Pavlína Radiměřská, supervisor of the Youth for Climate project
Students from Přelouč are not afraid of challenges
The Young for Climate project attracted the attention of teachers and students of the Gymnasium and Secondary Technical Graphic School in Přelouč, which has been involved in ecology and environmental education for a long time. For several years now, the school has had an ecology club led by teacher Eva Kroft.
"The idea of joining the Youth for Climate project came from a colleague who runs an eco-circle, and I am glad that we decided to join forces with the Pardubice Region and the town of Přelouč. We are going to reclaim the outdoor spaces in the school grounds and make them into a functional, educational and community garden," says the director, Miroslav Pavlata.
The promotion of the community garden is a great success for the students who came up with the idea and were not afraid to present their project to the school and town authorities. In the garden they planned a pond, raised beds, an outdoor classroom or even rest areas and play elements. The garden will be used not only for teaching, but also for relaxation or as a community place for workshops.
School management: director Miroslav Pavlata, deputy director Jana Brandová
"What surprised me about the project was that pupils of different age groups were very interested and enthusiastic, which is unusual because we usually see younger pupils being more enthusiastic and their engagement decreasing as they get older. Here, however, both First and Seventh class pupils were motivated and active. I saw them working on the field research and collaborating with classmates from another part of the school who helped them with the visual materials for their project presentation", praises the attitude of the students to the school's deputy head teacher, Mrs. Jana Brandová.
Local government and community support is key
But without the open approach of the local government and the support of the community, the project would remain only on paper. Their involvement in Přelouč was crucial and helped to create a unique project that will benefit not only the students of the school, but also the citizens of the town.
"We in the town try to take an active approach to ecology. That is why we welcomed the idea that came from the high school. We are very happy that our citizens will be able to use this space", says the vice-mayor of Přelouč, Mr. Ivan Moravec.
Vice-mayor of Přelouč, Mr. Ivan Moravec
The community garden is still a work in progress, but the students of the eco club are already actively involved in the maintenance of the plot. They are addressing the ecological maintenance of the grass areas in the future garden and creating suitable conditions for local bluebirds and other insects. They are preparing information cards on careful lawn maintenance. They motivate other classmates to join the project.
Eco-club students are actively involved in the ecological maintenance of the school grounds
"We try to awaken enthusiasm in young people for work and care for nature, because it is very important to us. We encourage critical thinking, reasoning skills and a sense of collaboration with adults. A key goal is that young people have a positive relationship with nature and are able to actively engage in society. What is important? Not to be afraid. These things will be incredibly fulfilling and make you happy", concludes Eva Kroft, teacher and leader of the eco-club.
Eva Kroft, učitelka a vedoucí ekokroužku
Many schools have found inspiration in the Youth for Climate project
Many other primary and secondary schools in the Czech Republic have joined the Youth for Climate project and have developed a number of inspiring initiatives. For example, at the Telecí Primary School, children have been involved in the creation of a water retention pond, which has a positive impact on biodiversity in the area.
Another example is the Eduard Nápravník Primary School in Býšt', where pupils prepared a local action plan for their village. They have implemented new bird feeders, organised three car-free days, organised a Yummy of the Week event in the school canteen to reduce food waste, taught younger children in the after-school club about proper waste sorting and organised a market for surplus plants at a garden festival.
Other interesting initiatives were prepared by students of the Gymnasium in Šumperk, who organised a community collection campaign and built insect hotels on the school grounds. At an ecological conference in Hradec Králové, they presented a proposal to rebuild the school yard in order to improve the climatic conditions around the school. They proposed, for example, the removal of asphalt, the use of permeable surfaces and green elements, and the establishment of outdoor classrooms. They hope that their proposal will be implemented.
Communication and teamwork
There are many similar examples throughout the Czech Republic. However, it is not only important to carry out environmental activities and to monitor the changes they bring about, but also to deepen relationships among pupils and in the wider community. Pupils learn to strengthen skills such as communication, conflict resolution and compromise that they will use in their future lives. They also bring local citizens together over a key issue of our time.
"I admire the kids in particular for the incredible perseverance they show in the project, despite the many difficulties and challenges. After all, the project is long-term and there are often situations that are not easy. However, the children do not lose motivation and continue despite the difficulties, which is extremely admirable", concludes Pavlína Radiměřská.
Information about the Programme Active Citizens Fund
|Name of the project:||Youth for Climate|
|Project Promoter:||Environmental Education Centre SEVER|
|Program:||Active Citizens Fund|
|Grant:||84 305 EUR|
|Cíl projektu:||The project aims to activate, empower and involve young people in decision-making to address climate change and to increase acceptance of their participation in decision-making by the public administration and the general public. It focuses on involving youth and other actors in the design and implementation of practical adaptation and mitigation measures at the local level in cooperation with local government and the community.|