By Global Co Lab
The future of our world lies in the hands of the younger generations, and they are ready to start taking action to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and see a better, healthier world. That is why the Global Co Lab Network is now partnering with TeachSDGs to mobilize students and teachers around the world to work together to become global changemakers.
The Global Co Lab Network is a “do-tank” organization that brings generations together to exchange ideas on global change. Through carefully designed Co Labs, or small living room gatherings, we have engaged hundreds of teens, millennials, and adults in collaborative thinking on how to take action on issues facing our world.
One outcome of these Co Labs was Teens Dream, a project that has now reached teens in over 40 countries. Teens Dream holds an annual video competition, where teens create a two-minute video based on their dreams on how to achieve the SDGs. Winners of the competition are flown into D.C. each year and are connected to adult mentors with expertise in their field of interest. We then engage the teens in our Dream Hubs, which are virtual rooms focused on a specific SDG. The Dream Hubs connect youth around the world to develop specific action plans to make progress on that SDG.
So far, we have six Dream Hubs up and running, focused on SDG 2-Zero Hunger, SDG 3-Good Health & Well-Being, SDG 4-Quality Education, SDG 5-Gender Equality, SDG 12-Responsible Production & Consumption, and SDG 17-Partnerships for the Goals (focused on using art to promote SDG action).
These Dream Hubs are led by Teen Ambassadors, who receive support and guidance from their adult mentors. They hold regular virtual meetings that allow interested teens from anywhere in the world to join in, share their ideas, and start taking action. We advertise these meetings on our Teens Dream Co Lab Facebook and Instagram sites.
We will soon be unveiling a new incentives program that allows teens to earn points as they participate. By joining in meetings, recruiting friends, and taking action, they can move up through various levels and eventually earn the title of Global Co Lab Innovator and receive a certificate of participation that can go on their resumes or help with college admissions.
Working with TeachSDGs
We are excited by the enormous potential of our new partnership with TeachSDGs. Our Dream Hubs are ready to be populated by youth that are passionate and eager to start making a change in the world. The more students that join in our meetings, the greater the impact we can make on SDG progress. We are creating an important network that will not only produce action plans, but also connect young people to the mentors and resources that they need to strengthen their leadership skills and propel their future careers. We aim to give these teens an outlet to let their voices be heard and to turn their incredible ideas into tangible outcomes.
Our Dream Hubs also offer a great opportunity for interested teachers and adults working in these fields to become mentors for our teens. Our virtual platform allows for international and intergenerational connections that can be sustained long-term. We are seeking adults of all ages that can provide guidance and assistance, but are willing to step back and let the teens take the lead. Merging our existing network with TeachSDGs’ is a perfect formula to connect young people to teachers that are ready to provide the stepping stones students need to start making their dreams a reality.
So far, Teens Dream has seen inspiring successes. Our Gender Equality Dream Hub team created the International Movement for Resilience, Authenticity, & Activism (IMRAA), a female empowerment organization that has been implemented in several schools in the United States and Ghana. Our Good Health & Well-Being Dream Hub has started the first Our Minds Matter mental health awareness club on the West Coast and is working to inspire teens globally to start these clubs in schools. Our Partnerships for the Goals Dream Hub produced an hour-long art show on gun violence called Triggered, which brought together teen artists from all over the world. Our Quality Education Dream Hub led by teens from Romania, Indonesia and Trinidad are interested in how to make education more accessible and interesting. They are in need of adult mentors! There are many more stories like these in progress, and by connecting Teens Dream with TeachSDGs, there is unlimited potential to what can be achieved.
Join the Movement
The Global Co Lab welcomes you to join our network and help us engage teens worldwide in SDG action. Please visit our Teens Dream website for more information and follow us on social media. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
How can you get involved?:
Partnership announcement on the Global Co Lab website.
First and foremost, I wish to thank you. Thank you for bravely taking your solitary stand in August. Thank you for speaking so boldly to the rich and the powerful. And, above all, thank you for inspiring millions of young people to #climatestrike alongside you.
With my own students you have been held up as an example of what youth can accomplish when they raise their voices. I have even suggested that you are, at this moment, the single most important person in the world. Many – including you – may disagree with that statement, but please allow me to make the case for those who don’t yet know what we do.
Climate change is not just about worsening fires, storms and floods that seize the headlines on a daily basis. It is also about the growing number of children who spend their days pursuing water instead of education. It is about drought and malnutrition and starvation – mostly in parts of the world that are least responsible for our thickening atmosphere. It is about the “tipping point” when melting ice will release more methane than even a zero-carbon Earth can handle. It is about the scientific consensus that we are only about a decade away from crossing this line.
Despite these facts some politicians, parents, and power brokers are telling you and your followers to return to your Friday classes. To pursue change from there. To allow the “more knowledgeable” adults to continue doing their work.
Some are worried about you. Some are anxious about their jobs or their stocks. Some are willfully blind to the realities of climate change. Some are scared. But they all have one thing in common:
They’re all wrong.
Confronting injustice has long involved bold breaks from the status quo – including the breaking of rules. Your detractors, for various reasons, seek to moderate your anger and shrink your sense of personal power. Thankfully, you and the approximately 1.5 million allies who just commanded the Ides of March seem to understand your true strength and authority. And you all have every right to be furious.
I want you to know that the vast majority of educators are on your side. To teachers everywhere I wish to acknowledge the difficult position we occupy. Entrusted with children from families of all political stripes, we are expected to separate our ideologies from our instruction. While some accuse us of indoctrinating students, others will criticize us for being unsupportive. When making your own decisions, I urge you to consider climate change action not as an ideology, but as a moral imperative that speaks to the deepest levels of common humanity.
Our students also find themselves divided. One group will die from climate change, one will fight in their names, and one will be marginally better at graphing and documenting the history of this crucial moment because they missed less class time. We, the educators, should want the second group to be larger than the third.
This does not mean that we have to organize weekly strikes; our students are doing that on their own. Some, however, will look to our faces when considering whether to participate in #FridaysForFuture. Freedom of Expression allows us to smile. Our consciences want us to dance. Our school mission statements encourage us to teach citizenship and activism. Tens of thousands of scientists and political leaders have signed letters in support of this movement. And the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, signed by every country on Earth, supersede restrictive curricula. So, yes, you can teach about climate change in any subject area.
Still, some voices will seek to silence us, too. Some voices will call for threats or punishments to students and teachers alike. But to educators reading this, please know that you can be the other voices in any setting. You can echo Greta Thunberg’s assertiveness and bravery.
You, Greta, have no doubt heard teachers say that young people can change the world. Like most adults, we love to say this. In this hypocrisy vs. heroism moment, please know that your teachers are immensely proud of you. So are the 30,000+ educators who drive the global #TeachSDGs movement. We stand united behind you. And we will encourage more of our colleagues to do the same.
Thank you again. And congratulations on the Peace Prize nomination.
Ada McKim is a co-founder of @TeachSDGs and a Canadian teacher of World Issues and Law.
TeachSDGs Team & Contributors