Community event tackles children’s growing ‘eco-anxiety'

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05 March 2020

Parents and carers in Bristol came together for a community workshop on how to talk to children about climate change

The community event, held in partnership with Bristol Energy, aimed to help parents manage their children's 'eco-anxiety' through an interactive workshop

Talk at primary school

The event took place at Bishop Road Primary School in Bishopston and was organised by the school’s PTFA (Parent Teacher Friends Association). It addressed the questions of how and when is best to navigate climate change with children, to avoid causing confusion and distress, and how parents and communities can support children to become resilient.

Parents and carers heard how approaching climate change in an age appropriate way can build a health relationship with the subject, encouraging positive action to protect the environment and equip the young to cope with our uncertain future.

The PTFA commented:

The Bristol Energy sponsorship of our climate change talk allowed us to make it a free event, open to anyone in our community and we are very grateful for their support. We had a fantastic turnout of around 120 people who were all engaged and enthused by the evening. 

Jo was a brilliant speaker. She gave us some useful tools for parenting in general and specifically gave us the confidence to speak appropriately to our children about climate change and some of the other major challenges facing us today.

Psychotherapist Jo McAndrews, who ran the session, added:

More and more children and young people are aware that we are in an emergency. Concerned adults are wanting to catch up and to know what to do for the best. The phrase ‘eco-anxiety’ is being used to describe the fear and worry people have about what is happening to the planet and how it will affect us. This anxiety is a normal and healthy response to reality, and those experiencing it need support.

 Ben Ross, Partnerships Manager at Bristol Energy, said:

Last year, Bristol became the first local authority in the UK to declare a climate emergency, and only last month the city declared an ecological emergency in response to the scale of wildlife decline and degradation of our environment.

It’s promising that more and more people in Bristol - and beyond - are engaging in conversations about climate change. But understandably, children can struggle to entirely understand what it means, feel terrified by the enormity of the challenge, and take the weight of this on their own shoulders.

I am delighted that we were able to support this event in order to provide local parents and carers with the opportunity to receive guidance from a professional who specialises in the subject. I have primary age children and while I am relatively well informed on climate change it’s often hard to engage my kids in a suitable way.

We are thrilled with the positive feedback from the school following the workshop and hope it proved valuable to those who came along.

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