Sheffield schoolchildren strike against climate change
Schoolchildren and young people from across Sheffield have called on the government to take immediate action against climate change and save the planet for their future.
Hundreds of children walked out of lessons today and headed for Sheffield Town Hall carrying banners and wearing t-shirts adorned with slogans in protest at the mounting ecological crisis.
Determined to make their voices heard, a demonstrator led chants of ‘there is no planet B’ that resonated around the city centre whilst banners scrawled with the words ‘no planet no future’ and ‘wake up to climate change’ also offered the views of those in the crowd.
Star Ingrams, a six-year-old pupil from Wincobank Nursery and Infant School, attended with her mother Rachel Ingrams.
“I explained the situation to her in simple terms and asked her if she wanted to go,” Rachel said. “Her reaction was ‘well if our planet is in crisis and may die then what can we do about it’ so we registered for the strike.
“The power of young people to be able to change things is evident, there are just a few young people from Sheffield here today but imagine if thousands came and blocked the streets like they are in places like Brussels.
“Maybe then politicians and leaders would start to realise that what we’re talking about is real and it needs to change now otherwise the young people are right.
“They won’t have a future, they will struggle to survive and the world will be very hostile, very chaotic, very hot and it will be difficult to feed ourselves.”
Schools across the city had offered guidance to parents wishing to take their children out for the strike.
In a statement, Learn Sheffield, a not for profit schools company owned by Sheffield’s schools and colleges, said: “This is a difficult situation for schools. On the one hand they will be proud that their pupils have the knowledge and social conscience to be motivated to take part.
“They also have clear legal obligations in relation to both school attendance and safeguarding. I hope that any young people and their families who are taking part in the protest have communicated well with their schools and that everyone is able to participate safely.”
Rachel added: “The headteacher at Wincobank was great. At the time she said she didn’t know if she could give her support but on a personal level she was happy we were joining the strike and it raised awareness as to what they could do as a school.
“Since then the national headteachers union have backed the strike so no school should be telling children it is an unauthorised absence.”
Youth Strike 4 Climate, the organisers of the movement, said strikes were planned in 60 cities across the UK
The movement started in August when Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, held a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament, which inspired thousands of others to walk out of school in Belgium and Australia.
Now, up to 70,000 schoolchildren each week hold protests in 270 towns and cities worldwide.
And although individual protests have been held previously across the UK, Friday’s nationwide protest was the first coordinated walkout.
The latest UN report warned there were 12 years remaining to avoid the worst effects of global warming such as record breaking droughts, heatwaves, warming oceans and melting ice sheets.
The movement is calling on the government to declare a climate emergency, communicate the severity of the ecological crisis and change the curriculum to make the state of the environment an educational priority.
The young people also want the voting age to be lowered to 16, so they can have a say in policy making and therefore be involved in their future.