With the climate crisis at the forefront of this generation’s most pressing social issues, the youth are in a precarious position. The World Economic Forum reports that 70% of young people between the ages of 16 to 25 are anxious about the climate. However, out of the ten countries surveyed, this heightened worry is the lowest in the US, with just 46% expressing anxiety.
The future that the youth will inherit depends on what we do right now. As such, it’s essential to let them know how they can use their voice for a greener future — and why they should. Here’s how you can foster youth engagement in environmental efforts.
Build Awareness Through Media
Media can be a powerful tool for information, especially today, with many accessible and entertaining content for the youth to enjoy. Shows like ‘The Reversing Climate Change Podcast with Nori’ can be informative as it gives information on what people and organizations are doing to reverse the climate crisis. A Scribd podcast series called ‘How to Save the Planet’ is notable because it covers a wide range of sustainability topics in as little as 30 minutes per episode. It also gives honest discussions on the climate issues presented and goes deep into how anyone can make an impact on this journey toward a better future.
Others may prefer more visual sources of information, so documentaries might work better. The Netflix documentary film ‘Chasing Coral’ is a moving work that chronicles the devastating transformation of coral reefs due to pollution and climate change. Productions like these can motivate children to become more engaged in environmental matters.
Open Up Opportunities For Involvement
In addition to providing children with knowledge about the climate crisis, it’s crucial to give them the resources they need to engage with these issues. Start with fostering an environment that enables greener practices, whether at home, in school, or within the community. Connect kids with recycling or upcycling initiatives, join community gardens, and start compost programs. You can also organize farmers’ markets where locals can sell sustainably sourced or produced products.
Showing youths how to partake in small but meaningful changes can encourage them to make their efforts bigger.
As young people, their voices can contribute to local, global, and national discourse about climate change and environmental policies. Empower kids to organize their own protests or forums to engage with issues on a local level, whether with their schoolmates or neighbors. This way, they can petition local governments to engage in eco-friendly projects like shifting to clean and renewable energy or supporting sustainable local businesses.
You can also help them expand their reach by connecting them with national or international forums, campaigns, and other forms of public engagement. By lending their voice, they can help shape policies that make widespread differences.
Empower Through Character-Building
Although the first step to youth engagement is awareness, taking in all this information about climate change can be overwhelming. Young people need to know that in the face of adversity, they can do anything they put their minds to when they trust themselves. The THRIVE training program empowers youth by fostering life skills and supporting personal development and responsibility.
Developed by world-renowned psychologists Ed and Carol Diener, this course helps kids cultivate a sense of self-identity and self-compassion, reminding them that they deserve a
better future. By having purpose and connection, they can take joy from being a service to others. This gives them the confidence to demand and fight for a better world.
Although the youth are challenged with a climate crisis they did not cause, it’s vital to help them recognize that they have a voice in fighting these issues. You can foster youth engagement for a better future by broadening their opportunities to contribute to the movement and empowering them even further. For more information do visit our Blog page.
Specially written for LiveLikeSam.org By: Raya Joanna