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CEP ChangeMakers Launch Event

*Scroll down to access photos at the end of this page and view the event YouTube video here: 

Special thanks to Violet Pei Xing Loke, Kamilah Hanim Ahmad Nadzrin (photographers and film editors) and Ben Judge (videographer), who are currently studying film & photography at the University of Gloucestershire.

 

On Wednesday 10th November, Cheltenham Education Partnership (CEP) launched their ChangeMakers Project, a collaboration of young people from across 10 Cheltenham state and independent secondary schools taking action against climate change. Launched in parallel with COP26, the project aims to empower Cheltenham’s young people with a voice and support them to take positive action towards more environmentally sustainable schools and communities. 

The CEP ChangeMakers Launch event took place from Cheltenham Town Hall and involved teachers and students (ChangeMakers) hearing from and asking questions with industry specialists including Planet Cheltenham, Severn Wye, Logical Utilities, FoodLoose and Plastic Free North Devon. We were also delighted to be joined by Reid Derby (Strategic Advisor on Innovation at Golden Valley Development) who did an excellent job of chairing the days activities.

Alex Chalk MP for Cheltenham and Councillor Max Wilkinson (cabinet member for Climate Emergency) took to the stage for a panel discussion in which students asked the questions they wanted answers to regarding local and government level priorities for addressing the climate change emergency.

Alex Chalk MP said: “The CEP ChangeMakers launch event was a fantastic, well organised, opportunity to share ideas with young people about how best to take action here in Cheltenham to promote sustainability and tackle the climate crisis. I particularly welcomed the focus on green transport, and I’m hoping the students I met will be the Cheltenham cyclists of the future!

Following a number of presentations and panel discussions the ChangeMakers (students) came together to debate their views on how Cheltenham’s schools and community are being impacted by climate change and where action towards supporting sustainability is needed most. Working in teams the ChangeMakers identified and agree on the top priorities for tackling climate change locally.

Raechel Kelly from Planet Cheltenham commented: “The ‘Changemakers’ launch was a fantastic event, showcasing the passion and imagination of young people when it comes to tackling the climate crisis. In a week where many feel let down by world leader’s promises at COP26, this event was a masterclass in supporting young people to make real change in their schools and communities. I look forward to following their journey and helping them deliver their chosen actions.”

The sustainability actions agreed upon by the ChangeMakers are being fed-back to their respective school/college eco-groups where various initiatives are being planned. The ChangeMakers from across each participating school will continue to meet during the course of the next year to share their progress and develop their knowledge and experience through collaborative learning opportunities. 

James Butler, teacher comments: “We found it [ChangeMakers Launch event] very useful indeed. We're taking the ideas that were discussed today back to school and suggesting changes to the way we approach sustainability at our school. The students and I felt that as a collective, we could be a very loud voice for change and potentially place significant pressure on Alex Chalk to take policy and funding suggestions to Parliament. Imagine if little old Cheltenham could be a driver for change nationally.

In May 2022, Cheltenham Education Partnership are planning a larger ChangeMakers Summit, where the ChangeMakers will be accompanied by approximately 500 students from across all 10 schools. During the event, students will present and celebrate their achievements since the projects launch. Attendees to the Summit will again include local government and council representatives, and industry specialists. Planning is also underway for the Summit to be supported by the University of Gloucestershire’s Sustainability Team and CEP’s newly appointed supporting partner GFirst LEP. Through their support the partnership aims to educate and inspire Cheltenham’s young people on future careers available to them within sustainability. 

During the event, ChangeMakers agreed upon the following areas in which they will focus their attentions towards achieving sustainability at school and community levels: 

Habitat & Biodiversity

  1. Surveys: What have we got; Education; Awareness days; Competitions; Decision making; Student voice.
  2. Composting: Different styles, types and areas; Wormeries; Food production.
  3. Rewilding: Roofs of buildings; Planting (indigenous); Improving concrete areas; Animal species.

Consumption

  1. Food waste: Portion sizes; Food waste for compost.
  2. Redistribution: Donate used resources; Sharing resources between Cheltenham’s schools. E.g. practical/equipment.
  3. Data Analysis: Finding out school specific data; School projects to selftailor impact; Energy consumption

Climate Change

  1. Make public transport free: For under 21s?; Encourage young people, especially students to use public transport; Improve mental health and independence; Improve safety of public transport, and frequency; Fund with road/car tax?
  2. Encourage schools to put in EV chargers for teachers/visitors’ cars:  Difficult for teachers to use public transport if they need to be in early, drop off their own kids etc.; Would make owning an EV cheaper and easier for them; Improve air quality and tackle climate change.
  3. Data collection on energy usage across all schools; Create a leader board/table showing all schools total energy usage; Encourage competition to reduce energy use; What gets measured gets managed; Collaborate on solutions to reduce energy use.

Emily Buirski, CEP Coordinator said: “It’s fantastic to hear feedback from teachers and students saying how empowered they feel to ‘take action’ following this launch. Their enthusiasm for the project and the importance on tackling climate change is clear through their immediate action to share the outcome from the launch with their school peers. We can’t wait to continue this journey with our young ChangeMakers.

Roxanne Gladyng, Enterprise Coordinator at GFirst LEP comments: “Truly, it [launch event] was both incredible and inspiring. I haven’t stopped smiling!

Visit our dedicated ChangeMakers webpage to view actions young people from across our schools and colleges are taking to tackle climate change.

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