Climate change initiative to allow students address issue

Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena is pictured with Arcadia Retails Park representatives and local primary and secondary schoolchildren at the launch of the Climate Change Initiative in the Civic Centre recently

Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena is pictured with Arcadia Retails Park representatives and local primary and secondary schoolchildren at the launch of the Climate Change Initiative in the Civic Centre recently

With climate change very much to the fore and a topic of important conversation amongst the future generation, Arcadia Retail Park have partnered with Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, to announce a relevant initiative for the Athlone and Moate Municipal District, sponsored by Westmeath County Council.

Entitled the 'Arcadia Creative Climate awards', the initiative will seek to give young people a voice in the area of climate change.

In total, there are thirteen participating schools from the Athlone and Moate areas, four secondary and nine primary, with each school's Junior Mayor forming a team for the initiative.

Pertaining to primary schools, the task is to develop an idea with regard to reducing harm to the environment or to create positive environmental change and awareness of climate change. The initiative will seek to involve parents, school teachers and the wider local community.

Relating to secondary schools, the task is more forward thinking and has two criteria. Firstly, from a broad perspective, the secondary school initiative will invite students to think what Athlone as a town and, in particular, Arcadia Retail Park will look like in 2050 in terms of environmental/climate change differences (for example, what way do the students think that everyday life will be changed in environmental terms, will there be electric cars only, will plastic still be in use, how will people shop in 2050? ).

Secondly, the students will be invited to make submissions on how the owners of Arcadia Retail Park should prepare in the next five to ten years for these environmental changes which appear to be imminent.

A full briefing pack will be issued to schools in early January and there will be prize pot of €2,000. Each participating school will receive a prize and there will be an overall prize of €500 for each overall primary and secondary school winner.

Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, expressed positivity pertaining to the Junior Mayor initiative as it allowed the future generation a voice on pertinent topics and welcomed the assistance impetus of Arcadia Retail Park in the creation of climate change awareness.

"The main objective of the Junior Mayor initiative is to give young people a voice and over the previous two months I have had the pleasure of visiting all the interested schools and engaging with students on matters such as the workings of local and national Government, the environment, road safety, amenities and recreation.

"The interaction was simply amazing and I would like to thank the principals and staff of the schools for affording a warm welcome to me. This Junior Mayor initiative is in keeping with the schools' wellbeing policy and the student council structures.

"The schools have now identified their Junior Mayors with some also appointing Deputy Junior Mayors due to the heightened interest. Queries raised with me are numerous and varied and all will be referred to the Council for consideration.

"It is important to say that the students are very much aware as to what is achievable in the short term plus possible difficulties in delivering bigger projects. This year I am delighted to have Arcadia Retail Park on board as a major sponsor with the launch of a Creative Climate Action project for the participating Junior Mayor schools, with a different category for both primary and secondary schools.

"We decided to address this relevant issue due to the concerns and queries from the students about our climate and how to best protect our planet. I would like to thank our Environmental section within the Council for its advice and indeed Arcadia Retail Park for their generous sponsorship and look forward to the adjudicating entries at Easter next year," Cllr. Keena remarked.

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