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First class! Leeds City College students create ideas for CAL

Over recent years, young people have increasingly made their voices heard in the climate conversation. From Youth Strike for Climate to demonstrations at schools, colleges, and universities, the "Zoomer" generation are speaking up on a topic which will impact them in myriad ways over the decades to come.

It's vital for politicians, businesses, and organisations (including Climate Action Leeds) to actively listen to a group that is arguably the first grow up amid consistent coverage of topics like global warming, biodiversity concerns, and the impact of individual habits.

And at Leeds City College last week, a group of Art students showed just how much creativity and thoughtfulness 16 and 17-year-olds can bring in response to climate questions.

A few weeks beforehand, as part of a project with creative charity IVE, the class of 20 students had received a briefing on CAL and been asked to work up some related campaign ideas. When the time came to present, attendees from Leeds City College, CAL, and Leeds City Council were collectively blown away by the students' designs.

Two groups had taken on the issue of littering but done so in different ways. One pair created the "Opinion Bin", where a container sectioned into two parts would display a different question each day and invite passersby to "vote" with their rubbish. The panel saw significant potential for use across educational campuses, plus social media platforms.

That team's classmates had instead looked to make bins more noticeable and visually pleasing, citing the Burley Banksy as one of their inspirations. Their draft designs could potentially be rolled onto vinyl wraps and applied to existing bins to provide an eye-catching rubbish route around any area in Leeds. There was similar thinking in a different team's psychedelic tote bags, crafted to capture attention on themes of sustainability.

Another group stylishly showed the possibilities of reusing items through a prototype dress comprised mainly of old paint sample cards, while a student whose teammate was off sick nevertheless gave an excellent outline of their community planter scheme, which would see discarded wooden pallets converted into planters for use by all ages.

The panel were extremely impressed by the thought and research underpinning each group's idea, with numerous comments on how their designs could be tested for real. The afternoon was also a handy reminder that while scientific research is of course essential to positive change, creativity and aesthetics also have a huge role to play in helping to achieve the shifts in society required for climate progress and justice.


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