#iwill Week: The Importance of Being Youth Led

November 24, 2023

Author: Django Perks | Picture: Phoebe Hanson (talking about Teach the Teacher at IFC 2023)

As we come to the end of #iwill Week, I want to explore the importance of Teach the Teacher being a ‘youth led’ climate education campaign. I believe that it is a valuable part of the campaign and one that we should certainly focus on. As someone with three years of youth social action experience, I believe that the best projects I have ever worked on are the projects which are led by the young people involved. And I mean led. Young people deserve so much to be at the forefront of every decision made within a project. It’s what makes it special. Young people are misunderstood so much in society. If we cannot move away from the stereotypes that are waged against young people then we cannot combat one of the biggest challenges facing us today. Climate change.

Climate change will impact everyone, no matter your age. So young people need to be at the table creating change. Young people of today will see some of the worst effects of climate change in the future. Young people of today are the people that have to live with the current decision-makers decisions in the future. So a climate change campaign that puts young people at the forefront of every decision is a remarkable achievement.

Since the day I started, I have loved my job. To be given the opportunity to take part in climate action whilst being rewarded for my time is an opportunity that not many young people get. Throughout SOS-UK, there is constantly a strong relationship between the staff members and the student staff and Teach the Teacher is no exception to that. Teach the Teacher knows that the only way we can be successful at implementing climate education into the curriculum is by listening to young people. The young people that go to school 6 hours a day, five days a week. So being youth led is so important within climate action groups. All of us work together with the same aim in mind. Educating other young people like ourselves in order to successfully ensure that people are aware that changes need to happen. It’s a working environment that is so hard to replicate elsewhere. 

#iwill Week is a week that I love. It’s where every youth activist can come together and show what we are doing. Where we can show the true power of youth. To show what we can do when we come together. Teach the Teacher has been a success from the start. It has entered into almost 50 schools across the country and has been to COP26. When I heard of the campaign, I thought to myself, ‘Why on earth had no-one thought of this before?’. But thanks to Jodie (albeit her Chemistry teacher for being a climate denier!), we exist and we are showing what we can do when a group of young people come together. I couldn’t imagine Teach the Teacher without student staff, it adds that extra special element to it. Young people, being taught by young people, teaching their own teachers. It’s like a double whammy of young people!

I believe that being youth led has helped this campaign so much. Every time I sit in our weekly meetings on a Friday evening, I am constantly in awe of what we are doing and everyone there. We lead the meetings, we take the minutes, we suggest any improvements we could make to the system of working, we assign ourselves tasks. When I shut down my laptop on a Friday evening, I do so knowing that the next week, there are four other people (and myself) guiding the powerful changes that our society needs to make. 

I love my job. I love Teach the Teacher. And every year, when #iwill week comes around, I sit and I acknowledge and applaud every campaign that takes young people seriously. Every campaign that works with young people properly. Every campaign and organisation that puts young people at the core of what they do. And every campaign and organisation that gives young people the opportunities they truly deserve. And Teach the Teacher is one of those. And that’s why its so important. Because to truly solve climate change, young people need to be listened to. Young people need to be taken seriously. So well done #iwill on 10 years of empowering young people and creating change. Here’s to the next 10. But most importantly (well - it is to me), thank you. Thank you to SOS-UK for Teach the Teacher. Thank you for everything you do to put young people at the forefront of society and empowering them to take action against climate change. Thank you.