David McCann Mon 03 Jul 2023
Kilcooley Primary School is the first in Northern Ireland to complete a brand-new education programme: Climate CALM. The distinctive course encourages primary school pupils to explore the climate crisis in a way that promotes positive mental health.
The much-needed programme was developed by environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, in partnership with educational publisher, Twinkl. The resource, which is free to access, is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. (DAERA)
Eco or climate anxiety is an increasingly common phenomenon. A global survey of 10,000 16-25 year olds found that 59% of respondents felt extremely or very worried about climate change, and over 45% said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning.
The Climate CALM programme, provides the opportunity for younger pupils, aged 7-11, to explore the challenging theme of climate change through a framework designed to minimise eco-anxiety. The framework is informed by the NHS ways of wellbeing which include ‘connecting’, ‘being present’, ‘being active’, ‘learning’ and ‘giving’.
Lynne Johnston, a teacher at Kilcooley Primary School said, ““The children really enjoyed learning about climate change and discussing how they can make a positive difference. We really liked how the 'Ways to Wellbeing' were incorporated into each lesson”.
The Climate CALM programme is free to access via the Twinkl website. Teachers interested in delivering the programme can also avail of free Carbon Literacy training, funded by DAERA and delivered by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. This training equips teachers with the knowledge to feel confident exploring climate change in the classroom with pupils across the age range.
Scott Howes, Climate Action lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful says, “We’re delighted to have received such a positive response to the Climate CALM programme so far. It is vital that any teaching on climate change addresses climate anxiety. This framework of learning encourages and empowers pupils to be active in creating a positive climate future.”
Rachel Gamble, Country Manager of Twinkl Northern Ireland, says, "We are delighted to be a part of the development of the Climate CALM resources. The interactive lessons are perfect for educating children about the importance of looking after our planet, while also nurturing their own wellbeing. We have seen a strong interest in the programme already and hope that many more teachers and pupils will make use of this excellent resource."
John Early from the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rurals Affairs commented “The Department is pleased to have been able to support the development of the Climate CALM materials for Primary Schools”.
He added “As we move to a low carbon society it is essential that we engage children in climate change discussions, from an early age, so they can begin to understand how the everyday decisions we make can impact upon their own personal carbon footprint and the positive changes they can make. It was great to hear the feedback from the children who have completed the course”.
For more information on Climate CALM, including a link to access the materials, visit: www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org/c-calm
Notes to editors:
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About Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful
Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is a charity working towards the vision of a world where people and nature thrive, by running environmental-education programmes and awareness-raising campaigns, increasing volunteering opportunities and reporting on local environmental quality. Programmes include the national civic-pride campaign Live Here Love Here, Tackling Plastic NI, Tackling Textiles, Carbon Literacy training, and local environmental quality programmes, such as Eco-Schools NI, Blue Flag Award, Seaside Award, Green Flag Award, Cleaner Neighbourhoods and Marine Litter surveys. For more information, visit www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.