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Environmental activism in the early years

Teaching our children the importance of looking after our environment and planet has always been of the utmost importance to us and from very early on we introduced the children to practices that were supportive of the preservation of our planet and they quickly developed a sense of responsibility. These practices have become a part of our everyday routines; recycling, litter picking, foraging, cooking with our homegrown produce, turning off lights when not in use; small actions that go a long way in terms of sustainability.

This is why, when we heard about the global ‘Strike 4 Climate’ on Friday 20 September, we discussed this with our parents and families of the children who attended on this day and we also spoke to the children about the process of striking and marching for a cause and asked them if they wanted to be involved, which was met with the response “Yes! We need to save our planet!”

At this stage, it’s important to note that the children who attend on a Friday, this topic and outing was age and developmentally appropriate; the children understood the basic concept of the strike, wanted to participate and with parental consent and involvement, we set about preparing them for the event.

After watching a few clips of previous strikes, the children decided that they’d like to make ‘posters’ to take with them and so one of our activities for the week leading up to the strike was to make and paint our own placards. It was absolutely fantastic to hear the children freely discussing environmentalism and their views on how to save the planet and ‘look after our world’ as they created and painted alongside each other.

An underlying theme of our setting for a while now has been ‘superheroes’ and the children are keen to don superhero outfits whenever we do something that constitutes in ‘helping’ or ‘saving’ and so as the morning of the strike arrived the children were incredibly excited and asked if they could choose and wear superhero outfits to the event ‘because superheroes could save the planet.’ Once happy with their outfits the children chose their placards and we marched on down to the Town Hall singing as we went. 

We were unsure of how many people would attend the local strike and so we stayed on the outskirts of the crowd initially but the children were keen to get a permanent spot and so they chose to sit on the steps of the Town Hall. It was here that our local Mayor took to the microphone and began to do a speech to crowd, the children were keen to find out who she was and discussed between themselves ‘maybe she’ll save our planet Worthing?”

The march began and the children were enthralled by the whole strike process, holding their placards with pride and seeming unphased by the crowds, noise and instead being caught up in the atmosphere of the morning and the meaning behind it; convinced their actions were going to save the planet.

Aside from the incredibly important global message that we attended the strike upon, our main reason for attending, with the children in tow, was to promote to our children that they have a voice; that they can be heard and there are different ways in which you can convey a message and fight for what you believe in.

That was the biggest take away from the entire event for us, that for those children, they truly believed in the message they were conveying, felt that they had a responsibility and acted upon it, and ultimately that they had a platform where their voices were listened to by everyone in attendance. In today’s climate and society this is what we must provide for all children – a platform from which to use their voices upon and feel listened to and respected, regardless of the message.

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