After visiting a number of schools, I was astounded by the level of engagement from young people from the Midlands on topics which matter to their futures. I receive many emails from students across Laois and Offaly, asking what they can do, and how their schools can get involved in action on climate and biodiversity.
I have also visited student in classes across the constituency, from Portlaoise to Tullamore, and more recently at Oakland’s College in Edenderry. I find the students to be interested in their local communities, as well as global issues.
Their ability to ask the questions that get to the centre of an issue used to surprise me, but now it reassures me. I don’t believe that my generation should be leaving it to the next to change the mess our generation has made – I believe that would be very unfair and too little too late. But I have read student reports on issues from biodiversity to turf burning and what I see is young people developing the skills to critically analyse a topic. This is to be welcomed and much needed in our future society.
I see the changes these students are already having - not just on attitudes but on behaviors – and the positive impact this is having on the carbon emissions of their schools. I see this at the primary schools I visit too.