Climate Change Connections

  • Location
    Ashtabula, Ohio
  • Status
  • Age Level
    Any Age

The Problem

We are noticing a disconnect between what we are teaching our school and local community about climate change and sustainable living and their daily habits. Example A: Our beach cleanup is an extremely popular event where hundreds of students, business owners and community members clean up plastic pollution from the Lake Erie shoreline. Some of those same students, business and community members are still using plastic bags, bottles and straws - or using plasticware and table cloths at their events. Example B: We had a very successful curb climate change campaign where the community donated money to help combat forest fires, BUT some of those same community members are eating or serving large quantities of meat from factory farms or cattle ranches, not seeing the connection between climate change and deforestation. Example C: We've taught fast fashion contributes to climate change, but, being a community with over 18.7% living below the poverty line (higher than the national average) many community members buy fast fashion clothing because its cheap.

Our Plan

We want to create a Sustainable Ashtabula Commission, headed by the KPC Team of kids to: 1.) Provide educational outreach materials to schools, businesses and community members. Outreach materials will be created by KPC students K-8th grade and include flyers, digital slideshows, photographs 2.) Partner with local businesses, as we've done in the past, and host a series of small and large sustainability events with student speakers and sustainable 'give-aways' - example: reusable bags and reusable bamboo cutlery, gently-use t-shirts from our local Goodwill, vegan food samples 3.) Have students and adults speak at our local City Council meetings about making the connection between sustainable living, curbing climate change and our daily habits. 4.) Launch a Community-wide Sustainability Challenge in order to challenge schools, businesses and community members to change their habits to more sustainable ones.

Themes Addressed

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    Climate Change
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    Zero Waste

The Benefit

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Here is how the project went:

It's still going! What we have achieved has been awesome and students not only in Ashtabula, Ohio, but in New York City are getting involved with our Kids for Positive Change Climate Change Connections project! Slowly, but surely community members are learning how their daily actions impact climate change and, more importantly, are learning how their daily actions and choices can help curb climate change. To date, students have completed multiple take action projects, but due to many, many, unforeseen scheduling hiccups, due to COVID-19 school shutdowns and snow days, a lot of our community-based outreach is still upcoming.

Through this project I/we learned:

My team teachers and I learned that it doesn't take a lot for kids to make the climate change connection, but it takes a lot for adults to make the connection. The main reason - resistance to changing long-engrained habits, especially when it comes to food and diet. A lot of adults don't want to make the connection between the beef and dairy industry and deforestation and climate change (not to mention the inhumane treatment of animals on factory farms), because it disrupts what they want and like to eat.

What I/we might change:

The timing. Launching a project like this in September was challenging with teacher's schedules and with the added uncertainty of COVID-19 school shutdowns. We did A LOT of scheduling and re-scheduling! I would choose spring for this project if I had it to do over again.

My/our favorite part of this project was:

Watching the student's take action projects come to life! Many of the high school students who participated in the program launch large-scale community action campaigns and successfully raised awareness and money to donate to non-profit organisations aligned with their cause! Each student found creative ways to share their knowledge and help their peers and community make the connection between daily habits and climate change. EXAMPLES: 1.) A vegan bake sale fundraiser with informative food labels about vegan ingredients, deforestation and animals impacted by deforestation. Funds raised were donated to wildlife organizations. 2.) School Clothing Swap to raise awareness about fast fashion and its connection to Climate Change and to promote the solution of upcycling gently used clothing.

Some tips, tricks or fun facts about the project:

Students, even at high school age, need a lot of guidance. Give students the guidance and you give them power to create change.

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