Plastic, waste, climate change and smoking are the biggest problems facing the world according to a class of 9-year-olds at St Kilda Primary School.
In letters recently exchanged between Council staff and students at the school, staff asked the question ‘What would you change or improve in the world or your local community?’ The responses were consistent, altruistic and had a definite emphasis on environmental issues. There was no mention of endless holidays, ice-cream giveaways or unlimited screen time.
Instead, they would like to see more action on climate change and the environment.
“In the world I would like to stop climate change, greenhouse gasses, pollution and global warming. In my local area I would like to stop people littering, smoking and cutting down trees”, said one student.
"Instead of chopping trees down we could seed more of them and make homes for animals", another student said.
“I’d like less plastic, people dying, homelessness and traffic. That’s what I’m hoping not to see when I’m at least 28. Now I’ll tell you what I do want to see when I’m 28. I want safety, no homeless people, no dead people on the news and…more happiness around me!”, another student said.
“I want to get rid of plastic in our world, because it kills animals. It’s important to look after animals because some of them help to keep people healthy and heal them”.
Staff also asked why adults should listen to children.
“Because adults have had their fair share of being in charge for hundreds of thousands of years and kids are more creative and fun, so they should be listened to”.
“Kids are the future and if we can’t speak the future is in trouble”.
The letters have been exchanged since July as part of a 6-month Literacy Friends program to improve community connection and literacy levels. 23 students take part in the current program which has included a school visit for staff to meet their letter friend and will conclude with a student visit to Council staff at the St Kilda Town hall.
As young people across the world stand up and demand more action on climate change through the School Strike for the Climate, it’s clear that young people are tuned into the crisis. Can their efforts be the final push we need to see change?
As one of the students reflected, there is no ‘planet B’.
"When I become an adult, future kids may have to move to space because we destroyed their home. And if we move to space we may not be able to find food or water and oxygen."
Another said adults should listen to children “because kids can change the future for adults and everyone”.
Let’s hope they’re right.
More about the Literacy Friends program
This program is modelled off the Ardoch Literacy Buddies program and the City of Port Phillip has approval from Ardoch to run it.
Do you want advice on how to talk to your child about climate change without creating fear?
We ran an information session recently for parents with early years educators, an environmental psychologist and young people on ways to help manage fear and hopelessness young people may feel around climate change and other environmental issues. Read the expert advice and tips here.