Posted Wednesday 18 November 2020
A project showing how children can influence sustainable living has been shortlisted for a Green Gown Award.
The Green Gown Awards recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives undertaken by universities and colleges across the world. The project, shortlisted in the Research with Impact category, is the work of Kingston University Sustainable Design MA graduate, Cibele Machado Fontoura.
She has created B Susty, a programme for schools that supports teachers in delivering environmental and sustainability messages in the classroom. It was developed from her project which examined children's understand of environmental issues. The research was based around the 17 Good Life Goals (GLGs), a global initiative designed to help people live more sustainable lives.
Through a series of interviews and workshops with children between the ages of six and eleven, Cibele discovered children easily related to these goals through their own experiences of sustainability. She said the children had a real understanding of how their individual actions had a positive impact, and contributed to ‘something bigger' - a global sustainability movement.
"I was incredibly moved by children's enthusiasm," she explained. "It made me realise that children can be powerful agents for change, capable of ‘spreading the word' with their families and in their communities and helping to create a more conscious society.
"Children are already developing their independent critical thinking and have a vital role to play in environmental and social discussions and solutions to halt climate change," Cibele said. "It makes absolute sense to develop a project for youngsters whose mindset is ahead of our time."
Cibele is now creating a long-term programme to deliver environmental and sustainability messages in schools based on the Good Life Goals. The programme uses workshops in which children explore their own experiences and actions to help the planet and draw parallels with the Good Life Goals. They discuss as a group and are encouraged keep the conversation going at school and with their families.
Having initially worked with small groups of children, she is working closely with schools to scale up the project and develop a programme that works for them and for the whole school. Her aim is to create sustainable schools where the Good Life Goals are part of everyday life.
"Schools have a special role in preparing young children to create a better future," she said. "I see ways to embed sustainability goals in the educational curriculum that involves a whole-school approach and allows space and time for schools to innovate. It's a very exciting concept."
Cibele was thrilled to hear that she is a finalist in the Green Gown Awards, which she says is the result of a great deal of hard work and passion. She is currently developing B Susty as a digital platform due to the COVID pandemic to enable the work to continue.
Having finished her MA in Sustainable Design, Cibele is working in an organisation helping companies transition to low carbon. She also acts as a consultant on a project to support and empower young Black people affected by racial and social systemic discrimination.
The Green Gown award winners will be announced at a ceremony in Spring 2021.