IT’S OUR FUTURE TOO! YOUNG ACAN’s PLEA FOR ACTION

Please listen to or read the passionate speech given by Lillie Ewins of Young ACAN at the Alton Town Mayor’s Civic Service on 20 March 2022. The link above is to a video recording by Lillie of her speech, and the link below is a PDF of the text of her speech. She concludes, “All I am asking is that you say: enough is enough, and do whatever it takes to campaign for change.”

In July 2021 at Alton’s first-ever Eco-Fair, three pupils from Eggars School spoke passionately to a rapt audience about their concerns for the planet, climate change and the lack of action so far.  And with that, the seeds of Young ACAN were sown.

Follow Young ACAN on Instagram: @youngacan or email them on young.altoncan@gmail.com.  

We interviewed Lillie Ewins, a Core Group member of Young ACAN.

ACAN:  How did Young ACAN come into being?

LE:  We were approached by the Eco-Fair organisers, who were ACAN members, and invited to be involved in the forming of a youth section for ACAN.  Our first steps were to decide on a name and a logo.  We wanted them to be recognisably similar to ACAN’s but to appeal to young people.  We then started having planning meetings on ZOOM and launched officially in October of last year.

How are you organised?

Like ACAN, we have no formal membership; we just invite people to join in.  But our focus is on local schools and colleges, where we are establishing a network of Young ACAN ambassadors.

What do young people in this area want from Young ACAN?                                                 

We’re in the process of finding out.  We managed to secure a Community Lottery ‘Together for our Planet’ grant to fund a one-year project called ‘Young Alton Climate Action: It’s Our Future’.  Part of the money will be used for a survey of 250 local young people to find out what their climate concerns are and how they want to join in.

What other plans do you have?                                                                                                              

One major issue that worries young people is fast-fashion, so we’re going to hold an event as part of the ‘It’s Our Future’ project to raise people’s awareness of how damaging to the environment it is.  It’s called ‘Swap ‘til you Drop’ and is a pop-up thrift shop clothes swap.  It will be held at Alton Maltings on 2nd April 2022 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  (Link to events page BACK ON THE RACK – Swap ’til you Drop THRIFT SHOP )

And then on 4th July, also at Alton Maltings, we’re inviting local pupils from years 6 – 10 to an Eco Schools Conference, where they will be able to participate in six different workshops in rotation.

What sparked your own concerns about climate change and your desire to get involved?   

I approached it from a political aspect initially.  I saw a lack of action and even complete denial.  This made me feel frustrated at not having a voice and angry about the lack of action.  It was, after all, my generation’s future that was threatened.  The Fridays for Future movement led by Greta Thunberg was a great start but it seemed quite passive to me as young people were not involved in shaping their own future beyond information-sharing.  When I went to the Eco-Fair, I was pleased to see that a lot was going on locally that I had not been aware of before.  I then started listening to podcasts and reading news articles and became more aware of what was happening and wanted to be involved.

How do you see the future of Young ACAN?

At the moment we’re still busy putting the structures in place, meeting the first ambassadors and holding our first events.  We already have an Instagram account and our own email account.  Beyond that, we’re hoping to see a broader forum.  So far, we have only involved secondary school children, apart from those at the end of their Primary School years who will come to the Eco-conference.  But in time we’re hoping to see a broader forum and involve Primary School age children too.

How can young people find out more about Young ACAN and contact you?

Via our Instagram account: @youngacan and email: young.altoncan@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from any young person who is concerned about climate change and wants to know more.  And if they want to join in, they will be doubly welcome!