“You young people in this conversation are the most important because the planet is your future.”
-Zack Polanski, Green Party London Assembly Member and Chair of London’s Environment Committee.
On Friday 2 July 2021 over 900 children Zoomed in from schools across London to join the GameChangers Summer Term Youth Summit. These students had the opportunity to ask a panel of expert speakers questions about climate justice and what they can do to make a difference.
The panel discussion opened with Zack Polanski, Chair of London’s Environment Committee. Speaking on climate justice and how we can improve our society, he said:
“What climate justice is about is making sure we connect things about our planet to fighting racism and hate crimes. Making sure we build a better planet that is inclusive, diverse, and beautiful.”
Participants watched a presentation from Eleanor Palmer Primary School about their environmental social action project. As part of their GameChangers project they created an eco-club that meets every week during lunch to discuss environmental issues and plan social action campaigns. They wrote a letter to the Camden Council IT Board campaigning to make Ecosia (a browser which plants trees) the default browser for Camden schools.
Zamzam Ibrahim, co-founder of Students Organising for Sustainability UK (a new educational charity that seeks to get more students leading on and learning about sustainability), spoke next. Zamzam encouraged the 900 participants to listen to each other and work together to fight for climate justice:
“Look around in your classroom and understand that everybody in that room has a very different experience. When we work collectively is when we will tackle all the big issues that exist in our world.”
The participants then watched a video of a rap created by Christ Church Primary School students as part of their GameChangers project. Performed and written by Shanair, Dawud, and Azaan, they rapped:
“Our earth is the best planet no cap,
this why we are making this rap,
if we don’t do anything it won’t be fair,
this planet will be a nightmare.”
The final panelist at the Youth Summit was Louis VI; a music artist, film composer, Zoology graduate, and climate activist creating more representation for young black and brown people within environmentalist spaces and nature. As a musician, he was very impressed by Christ Church Primary’s rap, joking that their skills would put him out of a job! Louis VI spoke about using art and creativity to have a conversation about climate change:
“Art is a really good way to get across complicated ideas when other things have not worked. So art is a good way to persuade people.”
The Youth Summit culminated in all 900 school children in attendance writing down their ‘big idea’ for a greener London: how to tackle climate change in the capital. These ideas, spanning from better cycle lanes to planting more trees, will be sent to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan in a long letter which outlines how young Londoners are taking the future into their own hands and making their voices heard in the fight for climate justice.
GameChangers is running throughout the 2021/22 academic year. To find out more and bring the spark of social action into your classroom, sign up here.
GameChangers is a Mayor of London initiative from Team London, #iwill and Big Ideas. It is part of the Team London Young Ambassadors programme.