During the year pupils at Bishop Parker School (Milton Keynes) have responded to Pope Francis’ invitation in his letter to everyone – Laudato Si’ to live wisely, think deeply and to love generously in protecting the world that God has entrusted to us all. Pupils have been thinking about how they can live more simply and, in school, have been trying to :
- Be less wasteful with paper and recycling more
- Reduce water usage – turning taps off when not needed
- Reduce electricity usage – switching off lights when not in use.
CAFOD schools’ volunteer Cathy Stormonth delivered two Key stage 2 assemblies about CAFOD’s latest campaign ‘Power to be’. She explained how a Kenyan village came to life and flourished all because they had electricity generated by solar panels.
Students felt it was unfair that 1 in 6 people in our world don’t have access to electricity! The effect of this is that children are not always able to have a good education as they are dependent on day light to study and can’t realise their dreams and ambitions.
Cathy encouraged the students to be ‘lobbyists’ and to write persuasive messages to Melanie Robinson (the UK’s representative at the World Bank) to spend more of their energy budget on safe, renewable energy which tackles poverty, so everyone can have the chance to fulfil their God-given potential.
In the subsequent workshop, Year 5 and 6 pupils were shown the Laudato Si video clip which has the global statistics about the impact of climate change. Pupils were very concerned to know how the poorest people on earth who live on less than 70p per day are the most vulnerable. If sea levels rise in the next 20 years with the increase in global temperature then almost 200 million people in low lying island communities are at risk. One Y5 pupil said ‘We have to do something about this now’
In the Year 3 and 4 workshops pupils were shown a CAFOD film clip on Climate Change and how the increase in its effects have happened through global industrialisation and the burning of fossil fuels. We discussed how the UK has experienced extreme weather changes in recent years and how flooding, droughts and the rise in global temperature are affecting us all.
Pupils constructed their giant sun displays with a superb range of comments about their feelings about the unfairness of people living in poverty not having access to electricity. They wrote many messages to the British representative at the World Bank to reconsider raising the financial aid budget for using renewable and sustainable energy sources – especially solar power. Each of the 4 year group workshops ended with a reflection and a prayer.
Assistant head teacher, Mrs Jane Shone, reported later how pupils were struck by some of the stark messages and statistics delivered. She said ‘it was a very thought provoking activity for the children. They are very keen to try and change things now.’
A big thanks to Bishop Parker for having CAFOD in to share with the students who were really impassioned to act. Thanks also to our education volunteer Cathy who did a fab job in raising awareness of the plight of those living in poverty.