Invest in Our Planet – Earth Day 2023 – inspires students and educators across China

Celebrated annually by more than 1 billion people in nearly 200 countries, Earth Day is a global call to action.

Earth Day takes place on 22 April and is widely recognised as the largest secular observance in the world. Since its inception in 1970 the movement has grown exponentially as nations promote a day of action, to change human behaviour and create global, national and local policy changes.

This year’s Earth Day theme “Invest In Our Planet” highlighted the importance of dedicating our time, resources, and energy to solving climate change and other environmental issues. Investing in our planet is necessary to protect it and the best way to pave a path towards a prosperous future. 

UN highlights the danger of Climate Change

Recently the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, stated that: ‘Climate change poses a serious threat to human well-being and the health of the planet’.

In 2022, a total of 891 extreme weather disasters were recorded worldwide and meteorological experts say that climate change is the main cause of the increasing occurrence of extreme weather events. The frequency of extreme weather events continues to increase globally, from extreme heat and heat waves, torrential rains and floods to hurricane flash fires and extreme cold currents. 

Findings show that a quarter of the world’s natural lands are experiencing longer fire seasons due to rising temperatures and drought, climate change is also increasing the spread of wildlife diseases and zoonotic disease. Indeed, recently, UNICEF Representative in Qatar, Anthony MacDonald, warned that climate change is now responsible for around 80% of childhood illnesses worldwide. Alarmingly, a recent study found that more than half of human infectious diseases could be exacerbated by climate change. For example, floods affect water quality and are more likely to breed infectious vectors such as dangerous bacteria and mosquitoes, resulting in the spread of diseases.

Earth Day education for children across China

ACTAsia introduced Earth Day to our Caring for Life Education for children programme in 2021 as we recognised the incredible traction that Earth Day has across the globe in promoting positive human behaviours in order to protect the planet. Since then, our Earth Day programmes have reached over 200,000 children across China.

ACTAsia’s Caring for Life (CFL) programme aims to help Asian children, aged between 6 and 12 years old. Taught over six years and based on UNESCO’s Four Pillars of Education, the programme teaches Asian children that all living things are interdependent and that the concept of One Health only comes from caring for all. ACTAsia’s Caring for Life (CFL) education for children addresses the environment in its lesson plans exploring the web of life, sentient beings and how our choices may positively or negatively influence the environment. The lessons are interactive and involve role play and collaborative learning. In this way we aspire to create a new generation of critical thinkers who will be inspired to take positive actions which will in turn will have a positive impact on the environment.

Shenzhen Zhimin Experimental School

The weather and Climate

In response to the Chinese Ministry of Education’s call for “green and low-carbon education in primary and secondary schools”, ACTAsia developed a new teaching toolkit on the theme of climate change for 2023. The teaching resources aimed to support all parties in responding to the ecological and environmental goals of achieving a “modernisation in harmony with nature”, with educational actions to effectively address climate change and help green development.

Interactive lessons- creating a typhoon and experiencing the greenhouse effect

As part of this year’s theme ‘Invest In Our Planet’, the Earth Day activities for children looked at the serious issue of climate change with fun yet impactful lesson plans. The topics of The Weather and Climate and Carbon Footprint were explored using a variety of enjoyable and engaging methods to help educate the next generation about the pressing need to change our actions now to ensure the health of humans, animals and the environment. 

During the sessions children were encouraged to use weather related props and explore how the weather affects our lives. As a common natural weather phenomenon, typhoons enter the daily lives of Asian children every year, and their impact can be incredibly harmful. To help them understand this impact, students carried out a science experiment to recreate a typhoon in a glass bottle which demonstrated the power of nature. 

Educators also explored the greenhouse effect and our carbon footprint with use of props. Discussions enabled children to understand that the greenhouse effect is a process that occurs when gases in Earth’s atmosphere trap the sun’s heat. This process has gradually had an impact of increasing the temperature of our planet with dangerous consequences on our environment. 

Students and educators truly inspired by the Earth Day programme

For many children these lessons opened their eyes to the world that they are living in and how vital it is to protect it. Our educators were delighted to hear some invaluable comments and were also surprised at their own reaction to the lessons:

Hongjun Liu, from Dongfeng 22nd Primary School felt the children were incredibly engaged: “Students learned that the greenhouse effect, and reducing carbon emissions, is actually all around us! They know what they have to do!”

Wen Xing, from Shenzhen Donghai Experimental Primary School was literally in awe: “During the discussion sessions, I found that the children were quite self-aware and self-reflective about human behaviour, with a Year 1 child telling me all about extreme weather phenomena in global hotspots, leaving me in awe that the younger generation is a blessing to save the planet!”

Jia Ma, from Guizhou XiangYou FanChen Enterprise Management Consulting Co felt a real connection with the children: “After the children have participated and experienced the Earth Day class, they have a deeper impression of climate change and understand that environmental protection is not a one-off show. We hope that there will be more systematic classes and experiences along the way, and we will always be on the way!”

Rural Outreach

This year children were also reached through Seewoo an online education platform that was able to engage more than 26,500 children remotely through the online Earth Day activities that ACTAsia had put together. These children really do experience many natural phenomena first hand and it is vital that they understand the best way to care for their natural resources. 

Earth Day is changing the way the next generation look at the world around them

With the help of ACTAsia’s 2023 Earth Day toolkit, educators were able exert their educational power to address climate change and support students to problem solve and look locally for things they can do to practice green development. 

ACTAsia’s founder, Pei Su, is indeed so passionate about protecting our planet that she recently blogged about World Environment Day and how we need to understand the impact of our actions on the world around us.

Through education, and a special focus on Earth Day, ACTAsia is making children aware of climate change and empowering them to take vital action now to protect their future.