Last week, the school participated in the national Youth Climate Summit, run to coincide with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which was due to take place in Glasgow this year. The Summit consisted of daily talks for pupils across all year groups, from experts in the field of climate change and environmental conservation.
On Thursday Year 7 students Charlie, Ava, Lila, Arabella and Alice attended a talk about the importance of green spaces for both physical and mental health, and shared some of the key points that they took away from the discussion.
‘The presentation started with an important question: Can sustainability affect people too? One of the main issues addressed in the talk was the disparity seen in access to clean air and green space between white British ethnic groups and those from ethnic minority backgrounds. Only 39% of people from an ethnic minority background live close (5-10 minute walk) to a local green space. Even worse, 42% of people from ethnic minority backgrounds live in England’s most green-space deprived areas. On the other hand, 57% of white British adults live within a five minute walk of a local park. Green space is important for reducing air pollution, providing a space of exercise and for mental health benefits.
The disparity in access to green space has become even more of an issue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous studies have proven a connection between COVID-19 and air pollution. Those who did not have access to a green space throughout the pandemic may have found lockdown particularly difficult. And the problems may have affected people of colour more severely, as they are much more likely to be denied green space.
We have learnt from this talk that green space is something not everyone has access to. As a community, we can help improve this by creating green jobs, consulting local communities about more green space and choosing a leader that will represent our concerns. As individuals, we can increase the awareness of this problem and the most important thing that we can do is to share our findings.
A sustainable future is our vision – now it is time to build it.’