Climate Change – People Change? GEAI’s Youth Climate Action Week

From the 24th to 30th of July, Irish, Italian and Croatian young people between 18 and 24 years old travelled to Solta, a Croatian island near Split. For a week, they looked at their potential for leadership, focussing mainly on Climate Change and how young people can be inspired to take action.  They were 24 participants with nine accompanying leaders.

This project was a Strategic Partnership event, funded by EU Erasmus+.  The project has four partners – Good Energies Alliance Ireland (lead partner), DOOR (Croatian partner that organised the venue, promoter of sustainable energy development), Legambiente (Italian partner with the aim of making a new kind of development and diffused well-being through environmental culture) and Youth Work Ireland Galway (working with disadvantaged young people).

Legambiente’s website: http://international.legambiente.it/
DOOR’s website: http://door.hr/english/

The participants gathered in the Zelena akcija’s (Friends of the Earth Croatia) Solar Academy. It is a camp made from ex-military barracks and re-used as a place where young people from all over Europe can come and learn more about Climate Change and about practical ways to fight against it. The location is isolated, the water used for hygiene is filtered collected rainwater, the meals are vegetarian and the hot water is provided thanks to home-made solar panels (built in the camp itself). The young people got to experience an alternative way of life where they really had to pay attention to their water consumption and to the way they eat and it was actually an important part of the learning experience that took place on the island.

Video introducing the Solar Academy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZcVOJD7Ixg

Every day the participants and their leaders gathered and participated in various workshops facilitated by Brigitta Varadi, an international artist who organises and runs those kinds of leadership development events.

Brigitta Varadi’s website: http://brigittavaradi.squarespace.com/

The workshops facilitated participants to find, in an enjoyable and unique environment, the Climate Champions within themselves and to feel empowered to address the issues threatening our planet and their future. Thanks to several ice-breaking exercises, the participants felt comfortable with each other and it created a safe atmosphere for them to exchange their ideas about Climate Change and how to find solutions to the problems it brings. They got to challenge their own shyness and fears and to experience what it is like to work as group to create innovative ways to communicate about Climate Change. They learned and personally changed during this one week and it is the leaders’ belief that if people change, then they can bring positive changes in the world.

All of this happened in a beautiful but remote island, without modern facilities, that contributed to an atmosphere of cooperation, friendliness and laughs.  All the participants had an unforgettable and enjoyable week, with challenges for all but great learning as well.

By the beginning of the next school year, a website will be created to present all the details of this project and share its methodology and results so that anyone can benefit from it.

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