Wednesday 29 May 2019

Attending a Youth Strike 4 Climate March

Ebony is a fan of Greta Thunberg’s (who isn’t, right?). I signed Ebony up for a First News subscription, and so now she gets a newspaper delivered every Friday. I do this mostly for myself because I like to see her reading a newspaper. But also, I do it because I really want her to know what’s going on in the world. I find people who don’t understand feminism, people who don’t vote, and people who seem to have no awareness of climate change to be truly terrifying. I can’t raise these people. I must raise people who ask questions and consider ethics, even if they don’t always make the right choices. I’m not looking for perfection here, just some compassion and social conscience.

So, every week, a newspaper arrives and it inevitably has a story about Greta in. Or climate change. Or the climate strike. Ebony has been reading these articles for weeks and asking when she can go on one. So, we went on the May climate strike. It was the fourth monthly event in Manchester, and they will be continuing long into the foreseeable future (until either the government takes real action to prevent climate change or we all die of climate change. Jokes…). If you haven’t been on one yet, you should go, they are positive and uplifting and filled with hope.

Ebony wrote a letter to her headteacher telling him that she was going on the march and that I’d be picking her up early from school. Her headteacher was really positive about it, which I will admit surprised me a little. While I am fully on board with protests and strikes and the need for climate action, I wasn’t sure her school would be. When I went to pick her up on the day, the receptionist was really positive about it, too. She made Ebony promise to tell her all about it after the holidays.

When we first got to the protest, there was a huge group of people gathered outside central library. They were setting up a PA system, and once that was sorted, the organisers gave some short speeches. The marches are organised by school pupils and there were young people with banners all around us. The local police had sent out a pretty stern-sounding email to local secondary schools essentially threatening arrests. I imagine to a teenager who has never protested before, and their parents, this sounds pretty scary. So I was pleased when Andy Burnham, Manchester’s Mayor, took the mic and thanked everyone for turning out and said how proud he was of them.

The kids decorated the street with pavement chalk and coloured in some paper plates in the family area while the later talks were going on. And then it was time for the march. Ebony held her homemade sign up high and proud the whole way around. She loved joining in with the chants and there were quite a few other kids around her age. Ember, on the other hand, immediately fell asleep and I had to lug her dead weight the whole way around Manchester which wasn’t exactly ideal. She woke up as the march ended and then cried because she had missed it. Toddlers are fun.

Ebony came away from the event feeling inspired. And I think it was good for her to see other families and kids out there protesting. She definitely wants to strike again.

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