Luke Wynne, Head of Youth and Schools at Global Action Plan, explains how the organisation is helping young people to make positive changes.
Recent social and political changes have thrown into full view just how turbulent our modern world is. As adults, we have the resilience to roll with the punches. But what of our young people?
At Global Action Plan we feel that it’s important to equip young people with the skills, values, and knowledge so that they feel empowered, rather than helpless, when it comes to tackling the pressing global challenges of today. As a feeling of connectedness to wider society is necessary to help young people develop the intrinsic values that underpin their growth into Global Citizens, we believe that engendering this sense of connection is crucial.
By encouraging our young participants to recognise major global issues, and to understand the value of taking actions in their own daily lives, we give them a platform to Think Global, Act Local. In doing so, we hope to contribute to the creation of a future generation with the outlook and confidence to tackle the various challenges that their future holds.
Our Water Explorer programme, which runs in 11 different countries and tackles issues ranging from the secret water in the food we eat every day, to access to clean water around the world, demonstrates that this approach works. Together, Water Explorers have saved an estimated 5 million m3 of water, and 13,000 tons of carbon through taking action within their own communities, whether that be with their family, their school, or their local town.
Creating young global citizens
The UN Sustainable Development Goals represent a fantastic opportunity for young people to engage with global issues. At Beaconhurst School in Scotland, a group of students decided that they wanted to make a valuable contribution towards one of the Global Goals, and held a vote to decide which one to tackle. When Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation – came out as the clear winner, the students chose the Water Explorer programme to help them to make their contribution. The team have managed to get their whole school involved in activities such as writing letters to companies asking them to discontinue their use of microbeads, signing water pledges and tackling paper use in school.
As well as showing young people that their local actions can have a global impact, international education programmes like Water Explorer also help young people to understand and feel connected to issues that are not so close to home. A South African school vegetable patch was not something that pupils at two schools from Ireland had on their minds until they connected with a Water Explorer school in South Africa. This connection brought to life the water issues that children in South Africa were facing and resulted in the Irish pupils raising and donating money to the South African school to help them to set up a much-needed rainwater harvesting system.
Beyond Water Explorer we have ambitions to extend the reach and impact of our programmes, so that we can continue to help young people around the world to develop into Global Citizens who can Transform our World, so watch this space!
To find out more about the Water Explorer programme, or register your school, please go to our website.
The photo at the top of the page shows Water Champions at Hawkstone Primary School in South Africa.
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