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ChangeMakers empowered to pioneer for sustainability

Over 120 secondary school students from across Cheltenham attended a transformative and inspiring sustainability summit at University of Gloucestershire.

The University’s School of Education and Humanities, and Sustainability team joined forces with the Cheltenham Education Partnership (CEP) to deliver an empowering event for students determined to drive positive change in their schools, communities and future careers.

With the University’s expertise in Education for Sustainability (EfS), a full day of bespoke training was developed for students, giving them the agency to amplify their voices and drive sustainability, as well as equipping them with the knowledge, skills and means to effect change in their schools and local communities.

The event included a range of themed workshops incorporating voices of expertise from across the University and selected industries.

Children looking at displays on screens

Miriam Webb, Sustainability Engagement Manager, said “When young people campaign for change, they need to understand the challenges behind the doors they’re knocking on.

“This training gave students real-world industry insights on sustainability and they went away empowered to have more powerful and insightful conversations with today’s leaders, and to lead change in their lives as future professionals.”

The event also provided an innovative learning space with guests from a range of industries, including Cheltenham Borough Council, Stagecoach, Golden Valley Development, Hillside Environmental, Planet Cheltenham and BaxterStorey, so that students could share ideas and discuss how sustainability will feature in future careers.

Will Parker, Director of Sport and Physical Activity at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, attended the event and commented that “to cover the topic of sustainability with such breadth and depth is tricky, especially given the range of ages in attendance.  The workshops in particular provided real food for thought and our pupils came away empowered. They have had their agency amplified!”

Created by the CEP, the ChangeMakers initiative was launched in November 2021 across 10 Cheltenham secondary schools to take action against climate change and has resulted in ambitious and wide-ranging projects tackling energy use and eating habits to waste and water consumption.

CEP Co-ordinator, Emily Buirski said “This summit marks a significant milestone in the ChangeMakers project as it nears the end of its first full year.

“Young people and teachers across the partnership have been inspired to re-consider sustainability and at a level that takes them far beyond the current curriculum.

“For those at the summit and others who will benefit from legacy resources, sustainable thinking is not just about what we can do to influence change now, it’s about preparing for future careers that embody sustainability no matter the industry.”