“I thought I was already quite concerned with the climate, but this workshop has made me realize even more that it is really high time to take action. Even small things can result in big things. I have decided to convince people more to participate in this, that will be my mission :-)”

This is a quote from a young female Belgian snowboarder after participating in the Erasmus+ ZERO Rides Climate Education workshop. Wow. It emulates the exact impact that we wanted to see from these workshops. We hoped that the future generations left feeling empowered to take action and to use snowboarding as a way to do so.

Let’s backtrack first and explain what workshops we are talking about. As part of the Erasmus+ ZERO Rides Project, over two winter seasons, the national federations and Protect Our Winters Europe are working together to put on climate education workshops. Since October, five workshops have been held across five different countries, Finland, Germany, Portugal, Hungary and Switzerland, for children from 12 to 19 years old. Throughout the workshops, young snowboarders (and some skiers too because why keep things so separated?) understand what is happening with the climate crisis and what is the science behind it. Then, crucially, we present what can be done to address it. We frame it as what can be done as a young snowboarder – what power do you and your snowboard have?

When we asked the kids, what they would share with the families when they went home, here is what they said (translated from native language to English):

“Climate change is dangerous and must be stopped not only for snowboarding but for the earth”

“Workshop was engaging”

“That it is high time to pay more attention to the environment and sustainability.”

“Cool presentation”

It can be a bit daunting to discover the impacts of human-induced climate change; it can be a bit daunting to have to teach it. That’s why we have activities. After the presentation (and a break), there are various activities to engage the kids. From a pedagogical perspective, we learn well when we are active both mentally and physically. The kids get up and run doing wheelbarrow races, seasonal food calendars, making decisions related to consumption and overall, letting them explore the climate topic.

From our post-workshop survey, the majority of the participants found the activities to be most enjoyable

Our favorite part was that everyone, from the Protect Our Winters facilitators to the federation people to the kids, can bring their own story and share something to one another, too. Education is a two-way street, here’s what the workshop facilitators and federations have to say about the workshops so far:

“They seemed to enjoy the activities, and overall getting their hands “dirty” with the assignments. They already seemed to be very informed about climate change, and the discussions we had using the questions in the presentation were also interesting.” – POW facilitator for the workshop in Finland

“The stations were really cool and helped a lot to understand the complex topic” – The coaches from the German Federation who watched the workshop

This is not to say that these workshops are perfect. Much has been uncovered about what is relevant for kids, what information works in which countries, and how snowboarders engage with the climate crisis. And we believe we can dig deeper. We, Protect Our Winters, are going to build this feedback into the creation of an e-learning platform and a board game. So stay tuned for the release of that. Also, next winter, we will be hosting these workshops again! We are excited.

To round off, and motivate us all, here are some quotes from these young snowboarders on taking climate action:

“The importance of a small action”

“Climate change needs to be taken seriously”

“Not to waste with the equipment (by buying new stuff too often)”

Words: Gillian Rosh, POW

Photo-Credits: (c) Sneeuwsport Vlaanderen, POW

Author: Birgit