GOAL Changemakers Award: Primary schools asked for views

Helen O’Callaghan hears about awards for global change

BEACH CLEANER: Flossie Donnelly is inspiring people to clean beaches near them.
BEACH CLEANER: Flossie Donnelly is inspiring people to clean beaches near them.

International aid agency Goal is inviting primary school pupils to share their actions for global change through its new Changemakers Award.

The award aims to introduce children to the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals and to show them that a sustainable and fair future is achievable through the rightactions. Several sustainable development goals have an environmental and climate-change focus and one of the judges of the new competition is 12-year-old Dubliner Flossie Donnelly, who cleans her local beaches once a day during summer and once a week during winter.

Her organisation, Flossie and the Beach Cleaners, is passionate about protecting marine life and ridding our waterways of rubbish. The organisation also connects with children abroad to learn from one another about what can be done about marine pollution.

It was the subject of a documentary on RTÉ 2 last week. “Recycle as much as possible. Ban clingfilm from your homes. Get a metal water bottle. Clean a beach and make things out of the rubbish you find,” Flossie urges her peers.

Goal deputy CEO Mary Van Lieshout is another judge. She says it’simperative that young people believe in a sustainable, fair future and we must equip them with tools to make that happen.

“We want a planet earth that’s sustainable and here for future generations. Our adolescents have taken the lead on that,” she says, citing actions schoolchildren countrywide are taking.

“Some schools are planting gardens and using them to learn about the environment, to learn about carbon emissions and how more efficient plant-based diets can be than red meat diets. Some classes are concerned about conserving water and looking at how they use it at school. How much water is needed to do a good hand-wash? Do we leave the tap running between students?

Others are asking whether we’re turning off lights, are we leaving technology on when it should be in sleep mode and how can we share paper-based learning materials.

While it would be easy to feel disillusioned faced by existing environmental damage, Flossie says she doesn’t feel down-hearted. “I know we can change it if we work together. If we’re angry and scared we won’t get anywhere.”

Van Lieshout says adult leaders must ensure young people don’t feel dejected but informed and empowered to bring about long-term change.

  • Awards

  • Changemakers Award is open to primary schools at goal.ie/goalchangemakers
  • Entries: every day classes are helping fulfil sustainable development goals, such as welcoming refugees in school, tree-planting
  • Send simple description of idea through submission form, plus pictures/ video/poster
  • Each province’s winning group invited to sustainable development-themed workshop; participating classes receive GOAL Changemakers certificate of recognition

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