Schools are key places for building community and taking climate action. Every parent has a voice, through their school board trustee and by being involved in school activities. From what's in the curriculum to how schools can operate more sustainably, parents can have a direct and positive impact on the education system.
You'll also have a positive impact on students who take hope and inspiration from seeing adults working on the climate challenges facing their generation.
Talk to friends and fellow parents about tackling this together. Forming a local For Our Kids team can help you access broader support and resources.
- Do some research. Start by finding out where things are at. Has your school or school board already had a conversation or any resolutions that address climate change or sustainability? You can find this out on the school or school district website, and by talking to your kids' teachers and school administration. Make sure to connect with your school trustee - it's their job to talk to you and they typically welcome interactions with parents.
- Build alliances. Your school will have a parent involvement or advisory committee, and maybe a student environment club. Reach out to see what they are interested in and whether they're already working on climate. See how you can join their efforts or get climate on the agenda.
- Ask for something specific. Crystalize your conversation into something specific to move this beyond a general conversation. Do you want to ask for a school board resolution, or some particular change? Figure out what that is and who to ask. Bring your alliances to bear to support you. See below for some examples and inspiring stories of school actions already underway.
- Tell the story. Share what you've been up to and what happened. When you have success, this will inspire others. If you hit a barrier, talking about it may help identify a solution or help to pressure the people accountable. Consider how to make the most of social media and/or local media to tell the story.
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Need some inspiration?
Check out these actions parents are already taking at schools!
- For Our Kids teams in Victoria and Cowichan helped their school boards pass climate emergency declarations as a first step towards more action. Here's some more on how they did it. They're now working on the policies to enact the declaration. Parents for Climate Victoria are now also teamed up with Dogwood Initiative to try and get fracked methane gas out of schools.
- Parents in For Our Kids Guelph are pushing for a sustainability officer position at their school board, someone who would lead and enact policy for all departments - Operations, Transport, Waste, Energy Efficiency, etc. The position could also work to align the school's emission reduction targets with the municipality's and make sure there's a budget for the changes needed.
- Parents in BC started advocating for electric school buses to replace unhealthy diesel ones - and it's turning into a nation-wide campaign. Find out more here.
- For Our Kids Montreal has been planting trees and gardens at local schools to reduce heating/cooling costs and create spaces for community building. They're creating physical places to connect to nature and host climate conversations. Find out more here.
- A high school in London, Ontario has become Canada's first self-sufficient, carbon neutral high school drawing on solar and geothermal power to run the facility. More here.
- For Our Kids Toronto suggests starting a community advisory committee for climate at your school board. They're also getting ready to launch a project for hosting school yard climate conversations.
- Get your school to go solar! Find out more here.
Learn more about these ideas and others from an idea-generating session For Our Kids teams hosted in July 2021- you can watch the recording here: