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Schools come together to mark Youth Climate Action Day through nature and poetry

National Trust Cymru and Literature Wales have come together to inspire young people across Wales to take action against climate change by connecting to nature, the outdoors and poetry.

Saturday 22 October marks Youth Climate Action Day, a worldwide movement of young people who are concerned about climate change and global injustice.

To coincide with this day, the two organisations are launching ‘Lyrical Landscapes’ – a nature inspired poetry project with Casi Wyn, Bardd Plant Cymru and Connor Allen, Children’s Laureate Wales.

Cemlyn- Ysgol Cemaes with National Trust Ranger ©National Trust Images Phill Boyd

The project saw 350 children from 12 schools participate in creative workshops at outdoor sites and classrooms from every corner of Wales.

The children were invited to their local National Trust site to get inspired by the area’s natural environment, history and legacy whilst imagining what its future might look like. In the classroom, they focused on putting words on paper and composing a poem that shares their relationship with nature, and the effects of climate change on their doorstep.

Casi worked with five schools in north Wales: Ysgol Cymerau, Edern, Y Faenol, Cemaes, Bro Gwydir and Pencae. The children had the opportunity to explore Cemlyn on Anglesey, Glan Faenol in Bangor and Porthdinllaen on the Llŷn Peninsula.

One site that really inspired was Bodnant Garden in Conwy where the children had the opportunity to go behind the scenes to learn more about the devastating effects of Storm Arwen in 2021, and the ongoing work to clear and restore this world-class garden.

Casi Wyn, Bardd Plant Cymru said; “National Trust Cymru care for a variety of different places, all diverse in the challenges they face with climate change. This project has enabled us to connect local children to some of these places and allowed them to build a sense of ownership. I believe the closer they are to their local environment, the greater care they will have over what’s on their doorstep.”

In mid and south Wales, Connor worked with St. Woolos, Tredegar Park, Welshpool Church in Wales, St. Mark’s Church in Wales VA Primary Schools and Treowen, Roch Community School. They explored Tredegar House in Newport, Southwood Estate in Pembrokeshire and Powis Castle and Garden in Welshpool.

Connor’s enthusiasm engaged young minds with the challenges of climate change and this is captured in the poems, which consider impacts from increased rainfall effecting the lake at Tredegar House to prolonged dry weather causing risk of wildfires at Southwood Estate.

Connor Allen, Children’s Laureate Wales said: “Children are aware of the effects of climate change, they have a lot to say, and poetry gives them that outlet to say how they feel and to say how they think about the future, because they are the future.”

Feedback from the schools showed that the creative workshops strengthened the children’s connection with their local area and inspired them to creatively respond to the challenges of the climate crisis. Being able to connect to nature and the outdoors also empowered the children to express themselves and their opinions.

Bardd Plant Cymru and Children’s Laureate of Wales are national ambassadorial roles run by Literature Wales which aim to inspire and empower children and young people across Wales through literature.

Paired with National Trust Cymru’s commitment to promote and preserve places of natural beauty and historic interest whilst creating experiences that ‘move, teach and inspire’, their ambitions provided a springboard to collaborate and inspire young people in Wales.

Lhosa Daly, Director of Wales, National Trust Cymru said; “It’s more important than ever to engage young people with nature and the outdoors and to get them involved in climate conversations. We’re very grateful to Literature Wales for the opportunity to work together on this inspiring project, and to play our part in offering young people a voice. Connor and Casi have done a brilliant job engaging young minds, and hearing some of the poems certainly offers a broad view of what climate change means for children in Wales.”

Leusa Llewelyn, Artistic Director of Literature Wales added; “Writers have been inspired by the landscape of Wales across the ages. Our stories, our language and our legends are all intertwined with our surroundings. Working with National Trust Cymru, our fantastic laureates have been able to inspire the next generation of writers with some of Wales’ most beautiful natural landscapes. The project has supported us to build the foundations of a lasting relationship between our two organisations, and we are looking forward to working together in the future.”