Turning Eco-Anxiety Into Eco-Action

84% of young people feel worried about climate change, with 59% extremely worried according to a recent study by the University of Bath. We agree that the climate emergency is worrying but we can tackle it! It’s up to us all to show the next generations the tools and skills needed to do it. One of the essential ways of resolving the climate crisis is by changing our food system. Local, sustainable and accessible healthy food for all is our goal at ShefFood. So, we are happy to be supporting the South Yorkshire Schools’ Climate Conference this year in helping the youngest in our community take action.  

What is South Yorkshire Schools’ Climate Conference?

The climate conference is the creation of Schools’ Climate Education South Yorkshire (SCESY). They are a voluntary group, set up in the summer of 2019 to organise schools’ conferences in the South Yorkshire region around the central theme of the climate emergency. The purpose of these conferences is to celebrate the work of schools in addressing the climate emergency and help other educators follow in their footsteps.

Richard Souter, Coordinator for SCESY said;

“SCESY was set up in response to the climate crisis and the inadequate progress being made in combating it. We believe that it is essential that schools, including their staff and children, are empowered with the knowledge and skills they need to accelerate change in society in order to address the challenge.”

The first conference, held in July 2021, was a great success. It involved approximately 60 South Yorkshire schools and an estimated 3,000 students and staff. Rafia Hussain, a secondary school teacher in Sheffield said;

“The SCESY conference got the environmental ball rolling in my school. We were able to self-reflect as a school and think about what we can do both individually and collectively. It certainly raised awareness. It is so important to embed climate issues into the curriculum to help everyone create a more sustainable world.”

The 2022 Climate Conference

The second South Yorkshire schools’ climate conference will run virtually over three days this March. From Tuesday 1st to Thursday 3rd March 2022, the conference will feature a wide variety of live and pre-recorded workshops for school children in both primary and secondary as well as their teachers. 

The welcome address comes from Project Drawdown, a non-profit organisation that seeks to help the world reach “drawdown”—the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. During their talk, they will share technologies and practices we can use to address climate change and transform society, how we can contribute to implementing solutions, and why climate solutions are a call for collaboration and creativity. No doubt an inspiring start to the conference. 

Part of Tuesday’s programme includes a talk from our partner organisation, Food Works Sheffield. Their discussion, Fair Food for All, will talk to secondary students about the work they do and how food waste impacts the climate. The workshop will include information on how to upcycle quality surplus and locally grown ingredients into delicious food and drink in your kitchen. Having saved 500 tonnes of food from landfills in 2021 alone, Food Works know what they are doing.

We are also excited to see the Bosh! cook up some exciting vegan dishes during the Wednesday lunch segment. The Bosh! duo, Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, met at High Storrs School in Sheffield when they were 11. Having gone on to host a TV show and write several cookbooks around plant-based recipes, it’s great to see them back in their hometown to share some tasty recipes with students today. 

Other than these exciting food segments, there are many more educators and organisers involved to teach Sheffield students about solving climate issues in a creative and impactful way. This includes workshops from Project Earth Rock, Energy Sparks, Amazelab, Wateraid, Thoughtbox, Robertson Construction and many more. There will also be several speakers including Louise Haigh MP and Catherine Nuttgens from Sheffield City Council.  

Supporting the Conference

If you are an educator who’d like to involve their school, check out the SCESY website for information on joining their network. The network gives schools the opportunity to learn from each other as they continue on their climate education/carbon reduction journey. For parents and guardians, ask your children’s school whether they’ll be taking part.  

All the workshops from the first Conference are online for free, and the 2022 workshops will also be available after the end of the conference. Visit www.scesy.org.uk for these resources and more information on the conference.

This year SCESY is hoping to reach even more students across the city and region and turn eco-anxiety into eco-action!

Data from The University of Bath, December 2021 – Climate anxiety in children and young people and their beliefs about government responses to climate change: a global survey.