Empowering young green influencers to change our future

May 27, 2021

Thanks to funding from The Ernest Cook Trust national educational charity, our Green Mentor Rosie Russell-Cohen has been empowering young green influencers to make a real difference to their local area and, ultimately, the planet.

Recently, she has been working with Eden Boys Academy school to inspire the students to connect with nature.

Here, she writes about the lunchtime sessions at the Bradford-based school and what else her project has been delivering.

Over the past month, I’ve been working with Eden Boys to inspire young people through nature and develop a commitment to environmental responsibility.

Through weekly lunchtime activities, we have provided learning opportunities for pupils to explore what it means to be an active environmental citizen. Beginning with a workshop about plastic delivered remotely in October 2020, pupils have engaged with environmental issues in a wide variety of ways –and now we have been able to do this in person.

In our first week, we planted more than 200 seeds ready to be sold to raise money for charity. The pupils learnt about germination, compost, and the importance of sustainability. It was a practical and participatory opportunity to engage with ethical challenges around climate change and the environment.

The workshop also encouraged pupils to work together as a team and develop their leadership and communication skills. Motivated by raising money for charity, the session offered the opportunity for pupils to cultivate ingenuity and foster entrepreneurship as they worked out how they could plant as many seeds as possible to raise the most money for charity.

In our second week, we explored food waste and composting through growing vegetables from left over kitchen scraps and making our own compost bins. It was an opportunity to nurture a sense of agency through exploring how easy it is to grow your own food at home, while also connecting pupils constructively with their community and the world around them through discussions about environmental stewardship and our impact on the planet.

Giving pupils the opportunity to grow, harvest and eat their own food has been shown to improve academic results and life skills, as well as improving health and wellbeing.

Next up we explored the importance of bees and their significance in sustaining the planet. We made mosaic bee baths for bees to drink from to ensure they have somewhere to rest on their pollinating journeys. The workshop allowed young people to discover a love for, and ensuing curiosity, about nature.

I hope to continue Eden Boys’ journey in growing environmental young leaders. We want pupils to take on increasingly responsible leadership roles in which they identify environmental concerns, and then plan, execute and evaluate a project to address it. We hope this will see them embarking on the Eco Schools Award scheme – and eventually see Eden Boys become a sustainable beacon in the local community.

It has been really fun and rewarding to be with the students over the last month and I look forward to seeing them again.

Other good things from our Green Influencers Project!

  1. I’ve been working with the Refugee Council’s Syrian Girls Youth Group to explore what role nature plays in the lives of refugees in Leeds. The sunflowers we planted are just starting to get tall.
  2. Settle Scouts are beginning to think about what environmental campaigns they want to take on. Keeping it local, we did a really good session on peat and can’t wait to visit Swarth Moor soon.

The pioneering Green Influencers Scheme is a project match-funded through the #iwill Fund – funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and Department of Culture, Media & Sport which are each investing £25million seed funding to support young people to access high-quality social action opportunities.

For information about the Green Influencers Scheme visit The Ernest Cook Trust website.