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Putting young people first for our environment at Keep Scotland Beautiful

A blog post by Catherine Gee

“Our future is in their hands.” This is a phrase we often hear when talking about young people. But never has it been truer than in the context of protecting our planet, tackling issues like living a low carbon lifestyle to combat climate change.

The actions and behaviours of today’s young people will determine what the future will look like. That’s why we were so pleased to support the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People this year.

Throughout 2018, we have incorporated this into as much of our charity’s activities as possible – from celebrating our 12 ‘young heroes’ in our Clean Up Scotland campaign to engaging over 4000 pupils in our Roadside Litter Week of Action.

As we move towards the end of the year, it is clear young people are quickly becoming one of the most crucial demographics in the decision-making process, as they stand up for what they believe to be right.

We need look no further than the actions of Greta Thunberg at the recent COP24 summit. Despite being just 15 years-old, Greta gave a speech in front of some of the most politically powerful people in the world and said, “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you’re stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”

Social media is also providing young people the ability to breakdown the traditional communication barriers that prevented them from creating mass movements and forcing change, and that is something we are aware of at Keep Scotland Beautiful going into 2019.

We want young, vibrant and determined young people to help us in our ambition to keep Scotland beautiful, and move towards a clean, green and sustainable world for us all to enjoy.

This year, we made huge steps towards achieving that goal. We encouraged all our It’s Your Neighbourhood and Beautiful Scotland groups to engage with schools, youth groups and young people in their communities – providing them with a   of how they might go about this.

We are proud to manange the Climate Challenge Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government and as recently as this month, the Climate Challenge Fund Awards in Perth included a new Youth Engagement Award with youth representation on the Awards Panel from the 2050 Climate Group. We were also delighted to have four young people sit on the Climate Challenge Fund grants panel to help decide which projects would be funded.

Supported by Young Scot, we added a new discretionary ‘Young People’ accolade to the Beautiful Scotland awards this year, with Dunbar in Bloom in East Lothian the winners. This year, YoungScot is also supporting our One Planet Picnic, which aims to get young people interested in local and sustainable food growing – card holders are awarded 150 YoungScot points for organising their own picnic!

We also helped a number of young people to develop their environmental journalism skills with our Young Reporters opportunities, some interviewing Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham at Gardening Scotland, and another who went to COP24!

In our Week of Action, 67 schools helped in our roadside litter campaign, meaning 4,473 children took action. Of course, we have our ongoing incredible work with Eco-Schools Scotland, involving young people from an early age in the debates around the environment.

 

We also encouraged 3-18-year-olds to take part in our Pocket Garden competition in which young people from across the country created beautiful pallet sized gardens, an initiative we have run since 2016.

It isn’t just engaging young people through campaigns that we pride ourselves on. We have also taken on five interns in recent years, providing young people with skills to enter the work place, as well as knowledge about how they can make a difference for the environment wherever their careers take them.

We are also going to be providing opportunities for students to do projects and research with us as part of their studies.

As can be seen, at Keep Scotland Beautiful we are going the extra mile to make young people feel involved in the work we do.

Thanks to all the work we put into involving young people in 2018, we are going to be building on this strong foundation in 2019, with more opportunities for young people to get involved, like our new Upstream Battle campaign. Already this year, we were excited to have schoolchildren take part in our marine litter art competition, the winner for which is displayed at Blair Drummond Safari Park.

If you are a young person and want to know more about Keep Scotland Beautiful, get in touch with us via info@keepscotlandbeautiful.org. Or get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook.

We support the