Eight Transition Year students and their teachers from eight post-primary schools joined together to learn more about climate change and migration at a student seminar held at Green Glens Arena, Millstreet on 2nd February 2016. The students attending were from Coachford Community College, St. Mary’s Secondary School, Bishop McEgan College and De La Salle College, Macroom, Boherbue Comprehensive School, Millstreet Community School, Scoil Mhuire Kanturk and Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra. The event was coordinated by Sheila Dillon, Education Officer with Trócaire and John Magee, Chaplain in Millstreet Community School. Given that there has been so much in the news over the last year about climate change and migration, the aim of the day was to explore the issues from different perspectives. The four workshops were facilitated by Aisling McGrath from WorldWise Global Schools, Sarah Walsh from Eco UNESCO, Deirdre Walsh from Trócaire and Bernie Connolly from Cork Environmental Forum. Topics explored included the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), consumerism, climate change and its impact in Kenya, and sustainable agriculture. Two students from each school had a chance to attend two of the workshops, with the hope that they would bring what they had learned back to their colleagues in their various schools.
The students who were there on the day had a lot to say about why they attended the seminar, what they had found interesting and what strategies they felt their schools could adopt on top of what they do already to help counter the effects of climate change.
When asked about why he wanted to attend the event Diarmaid Nagle from Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra explained, “I have a big interest in the environment and climate change. I want to see an improvement in our reaction to climate change. I wanted to learn how we can improve our environment and make society take action.” Colm O’Keeffe from Scoil Mhuire Kanturk added, “Having the opportunity to interact with students from other schools would give us the chance to share our different ideas on these important issues.”
In terms of which workshops the students found most interesting, opinions were divided. Aishling O’Driscoll from McEgan College said, “We learned the most from the one on sustainable agriculture as a lot of us are from farming backgrounds and were interested to find out how some agricultural practices are contributing to climate change.” Sarah Sweeney from St. Mary’s Macroom added, “I learned the most from the SDG’s workshop as I’m now aware of the global targets the UN has set for 2030.”
With regards to what the students felt were the most important things learnt from the day, Boherbue Comprehensive School student Chloe Fitzpatrick stated that, “I now appreciate that climate change affects everyone, but people in the poorest communities who did the least to cause it are now suffering the consequences the most.”
As they left the seminar the students and teachers were asked to reflect on what else they felt could be done in their schools on top of current efforts. Shauna Davies from Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra felt that, “Car-pooling could be encouraged for those students not travelling to school by bus.” Ethan Desmond hoped that, “Millstreet Community School could take steps towards becoming a Green School.” Ms. Carol Warren, teacher at McEgan College concluded that, “As a staff we could take practical steps to making development education more of a priority, not just in one subject but across the curriculum.”
There are plans for this type of seminar to become as annual event as it provides a great chance for students from different schools to share ideas and to realise that they are not alone in trying to address such important issues. The climate change and migration seminar was run with the support and assistance of WorldWise Global Schools (WWGS).
Special thanks to Thomas Duggan for supporting this event. Also thanks to Sean Radley for the great photographs.