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Hope for the Future My Hope for the Future

Georgina Collins of climate charity Hope for the Future talks about their latest project encouraging young people to express their views about the climate crisis through art and writing.

Copy of Katelyn age 13

By Katelyn, aged 13.

My Hope for the Future is a national art competition that asks students to depict the climate emergency through art and submit a written piece outlining what action, if they had the power, they would take to tackle the climate emergency, and what their hopes for a greener future are.

At Hope for the Future, we want to support as many constituents as possible to engage in climate action, specifically in lobbying their MPs to take action on the climate emergency in Parliament. We created the project to get young people involved in climate action through non-conventional forms of political engagement and to encourage them to consider the benefits of working with their MPs to bring about change.

The project received submissions from over 100 young people from across 17 parliamentary constituencies, coming in the form of illustrations, allowing the students to flex their creative muscles on a topic normally reserved for the geography classroom.

Copy of Olive age 12

By Olive, aged 12.

Copy of Indie age 12

By Indie, aged 12.

Copy of Ellie age 13

By Ellie, aged 13.

Ultimately, seven artists were shortlisted and invited to view their work as part of a virtual exhibition attended by their local MPs and representatives from environmental NGOs working on climate change. Emily Bohobo N'Dombaxe Dola of Youth4Nature and Akshat Rathi, editor of the brilliant book, 'United We Are Unstoppable: 60 Inspiring Young People Saving Our World', are also both speaking at the virtual prize giving event.

Young people in the UK name climate change as one of their main growing concerns, with a survey for BBC Newsround showing children are losing sleep over climate change and the environment. This passion - and frustration - was clear from the competition participants. Many had experienced the adverse effects of the climate crisis, such as flooding, first hand. As one finalist said, "My biggest fear is losing everything, people and places that I have memories of and from."

Young people are a key element in providing politicians with a local mandate to take climate action and the value of the sort of engagement from students seen throughout this project shouldn’t be underestimated in its ability to make bottom-up institutional change a reality. One MP who previously met with our students described how meeting with them was "humbling and inspiring" and that "we must protect the planet for future generations".

Copy of Katy age 17

By Katy, aged 17.

Copy of Poppy age 14

By Poppy, aged 14.

Copy of Toby age 13

By Toby, aged 13.

Given the events of this year - from the global pandemic to the subsequent A-Levels scandal - it has never been more important to give young people a voice to be heard on issues such as the climate crisis. With this in mind, the project is relaunching for 2021, focusing on the theme of 'building back better'. Participants will be tasked with imagining what their communities could look like in 10, 20 or 30 years' time if meaningful climate action is taken in Parliament now.

Submissions will be accepted from 12 to 24 year olds in any medium including audio-visual, written, photography, graphic design, writing, drawing and textiles. Details of how to take part will be available soon. There will be prizes and the opportunity to have work displayed in an exhibition in Parliament. The powerful presence of this exhibited artwork will serve as a call to action to MPs from the younger generation on climate.

The young people of today have proved themselves to be resilient and creative when faced with challenges, including the climate crisis. As one of our finalists, Indie, age 12, states, "I have the confidence that my generation will grow to be the one which finally takes the health and wellbeing of the planet seriously."

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