Taking control of their future
It was a case of the young leading the young at SCU last Saturday, with former Lismore local Ahri Tallon running an Australian Youth Climate Coalition training day.
Thirty five climate activists aged 11-19 went through the climate science, learned about what AYCC does, were taught how to relate their own stories, learned about theories of social change and group facilitation, and project and campaign strategies.
AYCC is the largest youth-run organisation in Australia, with 57,000 members and has been operating since 2007.
Ahri, who is only 19, has spent the last year working with the organisation in Sydney.
“Climate change is the greatest challenge facing people today and coming home and teaching young people in the region was an inspirational experience,” he said. “I’ve got a strong feeling that young people who grow up in the Northern Rivers are somehow in touch with nature and I kind of think that’s where young people in the area start to get active.
“There is often a general sense of apathy in young people, it’s a bit of a trend, but young kids get over it as they get older and start to think differently.
“Adults teaching find it harder to relate to young people, cultural perceptions are different. Being a young person myself, teenagers see me as an older kid, not an adult, so I’m a big kid teaching younger kids.”
When he was a smaller kid Ahri used to look after Kudra Falla-Ricketts at forest blockades, while their parents protested.
Kudra, who moved back to Lismore from Vanuatu in May and is in Year 7 at Trinity, attended the training day. One of the things Kudra learnt was how to relate her personal narrative about how she became interested in the environment. Kudra and her step-sister Tahlia started an environment group at their school in Port Vila, turning a rubbish dump at the entrance of the school into a garden. The group then sold the fruit and vegies and used the money to buy recycling and green bins for the school.
Kudra said, at times, she found it difficult to be upfront about her passion for the environment because it wasn’t considered cool by her peers.
“I don’t understand how people can’t care about the earth,” she said. “At the training day we learned a lot about leadership, about how being a good leader doesn’t always mean being in the limelight and how to get others involved. I met some girls from my school who are in an environment group that I’m going to join – I didn’t know about it before.”
Ahri said the training day had been about planting a seed.
“Seeing the energy come out of the day, how much passion, so much energy and empathy, it was inspiring,” he said. “Helping these young people to learn the skills so they can take action was amazing. The Trinity kids want to talk to their school about renewable energy, Nimbin kids want to do more with gardens, the Byron Bay youth climate group wants to have public spaces with renewable energy.
“Seeing the excitement forming in the group and working together was inspiring.”
Anyone who is interested in AYCC can visit AYCC.org.au and new members are always welcome or email ahri.tallon@youth