How thousands of young people are improving our environment

Grassroots Youth Forum 

Over the last three years, Arwen, alongside 7000 plus young people, has been taking action for nature in Northern Ireland, through our Grassroots Challenge project. Ahead of the project's annual celebration, Arwen explains how she got involved, how the experience has benefited her and why the rise in youth action is so important for the future of our planet.

I first actively got involved in the Grassroots Challenge through a Duke of Edinburgh residential. At first, I only did it out of necessity; a requirement to fulfill, a certificate for evidence, a signature as conformation. But I didn’t expect the experience to completely change me. During those five days alone, I saw how important it was to be a force for change. Not tomorrow, not after A-levels or when an event conveniently came my way, but right now. And, possibly more importantly, I learnt that being a young person didn’t limit my contributions, and it didn’t make my voice and ideas any less valuable. 

Since then, I have been a member of the Grassroots Challenge Youth Forum. It has been a great platform for giving young people, like me, the tools, confidence and experience we need to be empowered and take action in our own way. The world is changing fast. Not just our environment, but the attitudes and values of young people. The planet that supports us now, is the one that we, as young people, have to live with in 50 to 100 years time. My work with the youth forum has enabled me to share these messages and help others find their voice too. The stronger our voice for the environment, the more chance we have of creating a wilder and brighter future.

Next weekend, adults and young people will come together to celebrate this rise in youth action and the amazing projects  that have been undertaken across the country, from young farmers planting a kilometer of native hedgerows and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award volunteers repairing paths across the Mourne Mountains to over 30 special schools enhancing their grounds for wildlife.

By celebrating young people’s success, we inspire change in a wider audience, and open the door for future involvement and change. I’m always excited to hear about the work that other young people are doing. There are moments of – huh, I didn’t think about doing that; that sounds so easy, why aren’t we doing it already; and, what you’ve accomplished is amazing! What will you do next?

Young people are already having a positive impact on the health of this planet. Just imagine the things we could do as a society as a whole!

Find out more about the Grassroots Challenge