“Stop chopping down trees and plant more trees. Look after the animals that are around you. Stop polluting the sea.”
POWERFUL messages from some of Shetland’s young children are being presented this weekend at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow through the newly published book Climate Change: Children’s Voices, writes Alex Purbrick.
A colourful collection of drawings from children across the world, the book is composed predominantly of artwork produced by children of the North Roe and Urafirth primary schools as well as from the Isle of Wight.
It conveys their thoughts, feelings and concerns about the future of the earth and the perils faced by humans’ increasing destruction of the ecosystem.
Editor Geoff Jukes from the Weaving Shed Gallery in Hillswick said the idea for this book was inspired by seeing a collection of photographs that his friend and photographer Robin Bath had taken of children participating in climate change gatherings in London in 2019.
“I immediately saw the beauty and importance of the photos and thought they should be put into a book,” he said.
“Children’s voices can be powerfully effective, and I wanted to create a book that mirrored those voices. It’s clear that politicians and major corporate businesses are not listening to science or the voices of the people.
“What can be more heart wrenching than a six year old holding up a banner declaring ‘you’re destroying my life’?”
Bath’s portraits of protestors defiantly uniting in a colourful expression of solidarity towards protecting the earth stand strongly alongside the children’s drawings, allowing art to be another platform whereby young people can express positive ideas and fears about the consequences of climate change.
Jukes said he is hoping the book will “touch people’s hearts at a human level” and make them care about what is going on.
More than £8,000 raised through an online fundraising page is to go towards the project’s costs.
“We have a team of 10 people taking the book to COP26 and distributing it for free to delegates and politicians, as well as [through] Friends of the Earth and bookshops across Glasgow,” Jukes said.
“I’ve even given a copy to Bob Geldof who is keen to help promote it more broadly. There’s such a deluge of information coming through the media about climate change that is so apocalyptic and apathetic that it is so easy for children to become depressed by it all.”
To counter this apathy and depression Jukes and his team are looking to set up programmes for schools in Shetland and nationwide in 2022 with resources and tools for educators to find constructive ways to empower young people and give them positive actions they carry out to envision a better future.
There will also be a public book launch at the Weaving Shed Gallery in Hillswick on 21 November from 2pm-5pm with copies of the book available to buy, while an exhibition of the children’s artwork and framed copies of the photographs will be on show.
Organised in conjunction with local community development group NCDC Jukes intends for the launch to also be a social gathering with live music, refreshments and activities for children.
He said he is optimistic the book will have a positive impact on visitors to COP26 this weekend and added it is inspiring it is that “a good percentage of the young people that have contributed to it are from Shetland.
“It’s a strong message from the children of Shetland going out into the world and letting their voices be heard.”
For more information of Climate Change: Children’s Voices can be found here.
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