All it took was being introduced to the workshop content to take me from a slightly apprehensive, shy 25-year-old, to being super excited about standing in front of 30 students: this is content that is so obviously important, valuable, and unlike anything else on the school curriculum that it was a no brainer to get out to deliver it.
Of course this enthusiasm in me was encouraged by Laura and Coco’s informative and approachable leadership throughout the process of recruiting, training and supervising me as a climate justice volunteer. Before delivering our first workshop, volunteers were thoroughly taken through the slides and content to make sure we understood and felt confident with it. We were also able to shadow a workshop in a school before delivering it ourselves, which meant getting a good understanding of how the workshop plays out in delivery and made all the difference in being confident with the content. The great thing, too, is that volunteers deliver the workshops in groups of 2 or 3. This not only helps calm the nerves, but also, because often volunteers come from different backgrounds - some have knowledge in environmental science, some in social justice, and some in education - being able to co-deliver means you can help each other out and learn from each other’s expertise as you deliver the workshops.
And it really felt like there is something for every student in this workshop. Starting with the facts of climate change and biodiversity loss, and branching into an interactive introduction to climate justice, the workshop covers a broad range of environmental and social issues that are directly connected to students’ lives. It opens a conversation for how students can begin to be activists in their own lives, with a focus on activism being more than (often negative associations of) protests, unrest, public speaking, etc. and an emphasis on activism being more about change, making voices heard, improving collective wellbeing, and being a space where there is something for everyone, from creating artwork, to speaking to friends and family about a topic, to signing petitions. Importantly, we have seen students come out with really inquisitive and difficult questions, which is the beauty of these workshops - a curriculum that encourages children to challenge the status quo, at last!
The topic of climate justice is a complicated and ambiguous one at times, one where there is no right answer but often a multitude of questions. Working on this type of workshop therefore reveals a lot about the organisation delivering it; VFF have shown themselves to be humble, open-minded and passionate about continually learning and improving their work and workshops to make the most of the opportune 2-hours in a room with students, a chance to make positive change. VFF listens to the feedback from volunteers, teachers and students at every stage of the process, to continually improve their workshops to make a complex and often personal subject digestible and interactive. They are enthusiastic about the different skills and knowledge each volunteer brings to the team, and encourage everyone to contribute these differences to improve the quality of the workshops.