More than 250 youngsters got a chance to find out more about the real consequences of climate change on struggling communities at a special event hosted by Swansea University.
The pupils from St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School, Olchfa School, Parkland Primary School and Bishopston Comprehensive School took part in a series of special workshops and creative storytelling sessions held at the Taliesin Arts Centre.
The event highlighted a unique illustrated children’s book edited by the University’s Professor Sergei Shubin. A Canvas of Children’s Lives features three stories written by children from a Bangladeshi village and is not only available in English but also as a talking book in Welsh, Cholitho Bhasha and Sylheti.
It was developed after schoolchildren shared their experiences of poverty in Bangladesh as part of the PACONDAA project, which aims to engage local farming communities to identify best practice for the future and speak out about the socioeconomic impact of disease outbreaks.
Professor Shubin said: “We have been thrilled to welcome four local schools to Swansea University for our special two-day event.
“We hope this book of children's voices from Bangladesh brings to life the realities and challenges of poverty and climate change in the Global South and inspires them to respond. We explored these stories using art and storytelling, and we hope that this will inspire local children to engage with the key topics in geography and come to study here one day.”
The pupils received a presentation introducing the book and the topics it covers – from crops failing following extreme weather conditions to families split apart by economic factors – before taking part in creative sessions.
They also heard a talk which explained how studying geography helps us gain a better understanding of the climate crisis as well as issues such as migration, urban space and environmental dynamics.
Michael Viney, from Parkland Primary School, said it had been a valuable: “The children enjoyed getting to work with creative practitioners and experts to learn about the effects of climate change as experienced by families in Bangladesh.
“Through storytelling and art workshops, they were encouraged to ask interesting questions about the book and relate to the many challenges facing the country and its people. Many of the children were inspired by the different aspects of geography and are keen to learn more.”
Nicola Purdie, of Bishopston Comprehensive School, added: “The resources and materials provided by the University’s Climate Action Reseach Institute (CARI) were second to none. Our learners were inspired by the stories and the creative activities gave them an opportunity to delve deeper into the impact of climate change, exploring how not only society but also the environment is negatively impacted.”
She said they were now looking forward to more events organised by Professor Shubin and Tamsin Morris. “They really brought a love for geography alive,” she said.
Head of the Geography Department Dr Kevin Rees said: “We know that young people are concerned about climate change and how it may affect them and the lives of others in the future. This research provides insights into the very human stories and personal impacts of climate change for those living in the Global South in an innovative and accessible way.
“It was wonderful to see pupils from the local area engaging with geography so enthusiastically at this event.”