By Ann Marie Foley - 21 February, 2019
Baking, sewing, first aid and camping badges, which have been synonymous with Girl Guides for decades, now have competition from a Climate Action badge.
Thousands of Girl Guides throughout Ireland are expected to work at combating climate change to earn the new badge launched by Irish Girl Guides (IGG) in partnership with Trócaire earlier this month.
The badge was inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 13 – “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”
All age groups within IGG from 5 years to 30 take their own age-appropriate steps to help combat climate change and earn the badge.
“We all need clean food, water and air. There is enough for everyone but some of us are using more than our fair share by wasting resources. We cannot continue as we are and we encourage our members to play their part in helping look after the environment,” said Sinéad Crilly, Chair of IGG’s Membership, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and a Guide Leader in Drogheda.
She said that she looked forward to seeing many girls earning the badge. “We already have an Environmental Awareness badge, which encourages girls to recycle, conserve water and save electricity. Working on the new Climate Action badge will reinforce this message and, rather than feeling helpless in the face of climate change, girls will discover how they can play their part to protect the world.”
Ladybirds (aged 5–7) and Brownies (aged 7–10) will learn through activities how important it is to care for the environment and what steps they can take. Guides (aged 10–14) and Senior Branch members (aged 14–30) will learn about how human activities have affected climate change and about communities in Trócaire’s partner countries. For example, people suffer with drought and food insecurity in Ethiopia, migration in Kenya and rising sea levels and extreme flooding in Honduras.
The girls will look at links between human rights and climate justice and consider how Ireland and their own actions are contributing to climate change. They will consider through activities what actions they can take to address climate change.
Aine O’Driscoll, Trócaire’s Development Education Officer Youth, said climate change is the greatest injustice of our time. “Those who are contributing least to climate change are suffering the most, while those with the most power are failing to address the issue,” she said.
The initiative is led by Trócaire’s Development Education team, and is part of the aid agency’s ongoing work to use what it calls “creative tools and processes” to help young people understand the world around them and increase awareness of their effect on it.
The Irish Girl Guides has approximately 12,000 members. Guiding started in Ireland in 1911 and operates throughout the 26 counties.
The 1,800 volunteer leaders provide an informal educational programme with activities that foster confidence and leadership skills in girls and young women, enabling them to develop to their full potential and become responsible citizens.
The Girl Guides can choose to earn a wide range of badges, which now reflect the issues of the day and include everything from Community Action, Cultural Diversity, Disability Awareness, Drug Awareness, Online Surfer, Science Investigator, Engineering, Aviation and Global Traveller.