Local Student Climate Change Strikers

Like many parts of the UK, our area has seen recent Student Strikes for Climate inspired by Swedish student Greta Thunberg but it has touched all generations (see open letter from a parent below).

NEWBURY

For the date of the next YouthStrike4Climate in Newbury please visit their Newbury Climate Strike facebook page.

So why are the students taking time out of school and what are they hoping to acheive?

To find out more, we interviewed Lois Ryan, Year 12 student at St Bartholomew’s School in Newbury and one of the organisers of the Newbury climate strikes.


The Friday 12 April strike was in the Easter holidays and it was easier for primary school students and their parents to attend.

Emily Carr, Head Girl of St Barts, was one of the organisers of a protest in Newbury Marketplace on Friday 15 February of nearly 100 students from St Bartholomew’s and St Gabrielle’s Schools.  

The students chanted and gave empassioned speeches before processing down to question MP Richard Benyon outside his office. Click here to hear his answers to their questions.

 

Speaking to Penny Post after the demonstration, Richard Benyon said: ‘I enjoyed meeting the 30 or so young people who share my passion for tackling climate change. I was able to give them information about what the Government is doing and what I personally have done both as an Environment Minister and as a back bencher. We in the UK should never be complacent with an issue that is way more important than Brexit. It is an existential matter about whether we are going to survive on this planet. It is not and will never be just politicians who will solve this. I look forward to more passion from these very impressive young people.’

 

WANTAGE

 

For the February climate strike, Sixth form students from King Alfred’s School in Wantage were given permission to join rallies in Oxford. Lucy Evans was among the 30 – 40 King Alfred’s sixth formers who took the bus from Wantage to Oxford to join the Youth Strike 4 Climate rally that was supported by Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran and Oxford East MP Annelise Dodds.

Lucy was pleased with the coverage of the event and feels that it was a vitally important for young people to take a stand.

Now back home, Lucy will be writing to her local MP Ed Vaisey to ask for his support of the campaign. “Our school already has good eco policies in place but there are a few things like single use plastic in the canteen which we can improve on too.”

 

MARLBOROUGH

In February Marlboroughnewsonline reported seeing a banner about climate change appear briefly in the morning on Marlborough Town Hall but there were no reports of students protesting in the town.

OPEN LETTER TO THE DEMONSTRATORS FROM A LOCAL PARENT

Firstly, to the young and fiery protesters, I want to say well done and how much we all admire you!  Yes, even the adults that are grumpy and critical, we all admire the courage it takes to defy your teachers, parents and even your government to make an important point.

I wanted to write today to encourage you and share some advice. This protest is world-wide, but your life is here in Newbury (or nearby) so keep your focus local.  Your impact can help the adults who are trying hard to implement changes at local council level.  So make a noise loud and clear across the town.  The next protest is scheduled to take place on April 12th, so don’t lose focus and take flight to join bigger protests elsewhere.  You need to make a point here, in Newbury, right under the noses of the people who know you.  Do not let the adults brush you aside and ignore you.  It may be holidays but get out there and rise to the occasion. 

You need to do this. 

We all need you to do this because many of us know that you have the power of the voice that will be heard. 

As it is holidays, what better time to show your parents, teachers and every crotchety adult who has bleated on social media about skivving kids, that you really mean business?  Now is the time for those that haven’t been able to attend because you are nervous, intimidated or just don’t want to skip school. Now is the time for those whose parents have fed them the lie that attending a protest can be career limiting. Now is the time to take your own time and use it to make your point.

Now is the time.

If you are not physically in Newbury next Friday, look for a protest near you!  They are everywhere!  Tell your parents right now that you want to attend (wherever you may be) and ask them to help you get there.  When you are there, put your efforts on social media and tag your local newspaper so they can show the town that you are serious, even on holiday.

Start your own hashtag so that your posts can be easily tracked and the volume becomes measurable and real.  

Next month, when you are back in school, decide if you will attend future protests or find ways to protest without leaving school if that is what you prefer.  Remove your school blazer at the allotted time and don a green hoodie emblazoned with the message you would have on a placard and carry on with your school work.  Walk out to sit on the school field but keep working.  And don’t forget to get the message out on social media and tag your newspaper!  Multiple kids in class wearing green hoodies, performing a protest while still working or a group of kids working outside to protest, but still at school is the most powerful message of all.   As you add your voice, in your way, so others will find the courage to join in. 

But whatever you do, whatever you decide, shout about it everywhere so that your message gets out. 

This has the potential to shut down every adult who rolled their eyes and attacked you for taking a stand.  They should have taken a stand 40 years ago but nobody wants to admit that and so the best line of defence is, of course, attack.

Going forward, make a pledge to change something about your own life, something you can control.  You can’t control what car your parents drive, or what decisions they make.  But you can control yours.

So make a pledge, and make it public.

Pledge to do a #trashtag clean up once a month.  Pledge to buy no new clothes for one year and only buy second hand clothing from charity shops.  Pledge to introduce reduce, reuse, recycle ideas at home and share your ideas!  You are smart kids, you know what to do, but make sure that you are showing everyone that you do actually walk the talk.

Lastly, find a way to communicate amongst the schools.  You need some sort of channel of communication so that you can share resources, ideas, and rally together.  This way you will become more organised, visible, fiercer, make a bigger impact and of course you will have a better idea of your numbers for each protest.

To the adults who are supportive of these brave kids, thank you. 

To everyone else who is a critic, I think Bob Dylan said it best:

“Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.”

Good luck next week, I’ll be there to support you.

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