Change-Climate Project launched

November 23, 2022 in Featured News, News

At the launch of the new Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Europe CHANGE-CLIMATE Project on 23 November 2022, Emer Connor, JRS Ireland Projects Officer called on Irish schools and students to continue to lead the way as active ‘agents of change’ in responding to the interrelated global challenges of climate change and forced migration. She also looked back at the outcomes of the initial JRS Europe CHANGE programme which ended in June 2022.  

Emer highlighted: “Climate and environmental changes, driven by human activity, are causing the most pressing global crises of our time, and our younger generations understand that. CHANGE-CLIMATE provides a structured framework to allow teachers explore the complex issues and challenges surrounding climate devastation with students in a way that fosters critical thinking, empathy, research and discussion skills.”

This new iteration of CHANGE will empower students in Ireland, Spain, Lebanon, Uganda, Hungary and Belgium. Designed to teach students between the ages of 14 and 18 about the issues of environmental change and human migration – and how they interact – it includes activities, videos, interactive resources, scientific data, human stories, and other tools which address crucial themes around environmentally driven displacement.

To register, access project resources and/or get involved with CHANGE-CLIMATE, please email [email protected].

Ms Connor took the opportunity to reflect at the end of the very successful JRS Europe CHANGE project delivered in 10 countries and to acknowledge the huge contribution of participating Irish schools and students in its successful delivery.

“Despite the unprecedented challenges posed by the global pandemic, over 3,500 young people in 25 schools across Ireland participated in the original CHANGE programme. JRS Ireland is particularly grateful for the support of students, teachers and school communities throughout the Jesuit network who were full of ideas and highly motivated to understand and respond to the changing needs of newly arrived asylum seekers and refugees to Ireland.”

CHANGE enabled students throughout Ireland join peers across Europe to engage and think critically about issues surrounding migration, encounter people from a refugee background and most importantly, to act! Student Ambassadors in Ireland took action to welcome newly arrived asylum seekers in a number of creative and impactful ways such as toy appeals, sponsored runs, winter clothing drives, dress up fundraising days and photo exhibitions.

Irish Jesuit schools developed innovative ways to support the project. Belvedere College SJ facilitated encounters online between students and the JRS team working in Syria. In Clongowes Wood College SJ, CHANGE formed part of the social outreach programme. Very successful fundraising initiatives were coordinated by Gonzaga College SJ and Coláiste Iognáid SJ. and the Crescent College Comprehensive SJ school community participated in the Limerick United Against Racism campaign.

In June 2022 the CHANGE National Event, run in partnership with students from St Raphaela’s Secondary School, saw over 50 asylum seekers from the National Reception Centre hosted for a day of games, food and cultural exchange. This first phase of the CHANGE project culminated in a regional European Event, at which six Irish students represented their school and JRS Ireland, engaging and exchanging ideas with their peers from schools across Europe in Brussels.